by Ailsa Richardson, Engagement Officer – Older People
Our Dementia Friendly creative cafes are pop up cafes at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery for people living with dementia and their carers and family members.
At a creative café, we start by warmly welcoming participants to the museum. We then visit the galleries to see some of the museum collections and meet curators and visiting artists.
We’ve engaged in lots of creative activities that encourage communication and new experiences including conversations about costume and textures in the 550 year old painting, St Luke Drawing the Virgin and Child by Dieric Bouts. This led to the creation of personalised photographic portraits in the galleries with artists, Kate Uzzell and Polly Garnett.
We’ve also enjoyed poetry readings in the galleries and created individual and collective poems with Bristol-based poet, Caleb Parkin as well as music in the modern and contemporary art gallery.
Through evaluation of the sessions, we’ve found a hunger for more information about the paintings. We noticed that participants will spend a long time with one picture and this sort of engagement opened our eyes to different aspects of the paintings.
A conversation with participants Roger and Alice about ‘hands’ in paintings led to observations about skies and how they indicate the time of day and other aspects of the environment. Roger pointed out that it could be dawn in the Bouts painting.
We’ve also found the feeling that there is ‘a community with you’. One of our Front of House staff commented that it’s become like a warm welcoming club. Sometimes participants have expressed feelings about their condition and about living with dementia. Sharing experiences led to a camaraderie and increasing confidence for members of the group.
We’ve received valuable feedback. One word responses include: enchanting, cushty, awe-inspiring, inspirational, tender, friendly, beautiful, amusing, lovely.
- Thanks for such a beautiful workshop today it felt really special that so many family members were part of the workshop.
- These are experiences to be treasured. This work – what you are doing – is hugely beneficial.
- I enjoyed it all – can I come every week?
- The detail that the Old Masters could create was really surprising.
- I surprised myself – I wasn’t one for going to galleries and looking at paintings; I wasn’t sure about coming but I really enjoyed it.
- A lot of things aren’t as easy as they were (for mum) but this has been. It has been a joy for her to engage with the arts again and getting to know others. She is always looking forward to the sessions. Mother/daughter time.
- It’s a great programme and the participants are such interesting people.
What happens next?
There will be some Dementia Friendly museum tours happening soon and another series of creative cafés in the spring.