Spring update from the Dementia and Imagination study

Dementia and Imagination

Connecting Communities Through Art


Announcements on upcoming events and workshops for 2016…


2016 is well underway and we are delighted to bring you the first update of the year for Dementia and Imagination!

Some of data collection is still on-going with our Swansea researchers still collecting data for their work on social contagion. 2016 will be a very exciting time as we prepare our analyses ready for sharing our findings later in the year.

In the meantime, our last art group took place in Autumn 2015. This group took a different shape to the previous art groups for the study, with an adventurous ‘Grand Tour ‘ format, where a small group of people living with dementia were taken on day trips to nearby locations. You can read more about their adventure.

A number of our art group member’s have been able to continue attending an art group: in North Wales through Denbighshire County Council’s Lost in Art programme. This has recently been expanded to neighbouring counties and work is currently on display in an exhibition at Ruthin Craft Centre (see below).

Finally, we’re beginning preparations for some workshops and activities starting this Spring and we’re sharing the news about these events here first!

The D & I team

Creating a dementia supportive practice community

Dr. Catrin Hedd Jones will lead a one year project to explore creating a network for people living with dementia and their supporters in North Wales. The award is funded by the Bangor University ESRC Impact Acceleration Account and is a collaboration with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, Art in Health and Well- being and the North Wales Alzheimer’s Society.

The network will facilitate discussion on how we can work collaboratively to deliver a dementia supportive practice community in North Wales, identifying opportunities for people living with dementia and those who care for them. Naturally there is a great deal of excellent work already in place and the network will both celebrate and increase appreciation of what is currently available.

We hope to include a broad representation including: people living with dementia, care and support workers, artist and academics who are currently supporting people to live well with dementia in North Wales.

Delegates at one of the Connected Communities festival events in summer 2015, which helped to shape the idea for the network.


Three initial meetings will be held across North Wales in May-June 2016. This format will encourage members to identify themes which can be developed in partnership. There will also be a conference to share best practice with a wider audience in early 2017. Creative workshops, facilitated by experienced artists will be offered free of charge as part of the network.

This will not be a ‘talking shop’ but a stimulating and useful platform for sharing information and working with others passionate about making a positive contribution. Anyone wishing to discuss this opportunity further should contact Dr. Jennifer Roberts at the Dementia Services Development Centre Wales, Bangor University (j.roberts@bangor.ac.uk).


A 'grand Tour' for Derbyshire day unit patients

For the fourth and final art group held in the Derbyshire area, it was decided amongst the artists and researchers to try a different approach. Instead of  running 12 weekly sessions in a hospital day unit, working with outpatients with Dementia, artists Gillian Brent and Jo Dacombe developed a series of day trips in the area for a small group of patients.

The idea of the ‘Grand Tour’ linked with an exhibition at the Nottingham Contemporary gallery titled: ‘Pablo Bronstein and the Treasures of Chatsworth’, reimagined the Grand Tours of the 17th and 18th Centuries for contemporary audiences. Those Grand Tours were made by wealthy young men travelling around Europe as their education. The artists took five women to three local historic sites in the spirit of exploration and personal cultural engagement. During the sessions, the participants kept journals to collect their artistic responses to their experiences.

A journal page by one of the group

Sharing drawings on the canal trip

The first trip was to Chatsworth House where the group made drawings, took photos and used various looking tools to explore both the contemporary art on display outside and inside and some of the treasures collected by previous Dukes during their Grand Tours.

The second day trip was to Chesterfield’s famous medieval Crooked Spire Church. The participants created coloured acetate ‘window’s, made foil rubbings of carvings, and pressed flowers.

The final trip was on a canal boat on the Chesterfield Canal. This was a magical trip; contemplative and yet exciting. The group saw kingfishers, wrote group poems, and made artworks with plants and objects that were visible along the canal bank.

Each of the group members were given a small digital camera to use and they all took lots of photos, although some had never used a camera before. The journals built up over the weeks with photos, drawings, collages, and text. They became a useful way for the participants to retain the memories of the trips and to talk to staff about them.

For the longer term, the sessions inspired staff to continue using the artistic process of creating a journal as way of better understanding each participant’s interests during their lives and capturing their personal responses to the here and now. They also showed that it is possible to take patients out on days trips and how much stimulus, group bonding and well being was generated by them.


-With thanks to Nottingham Contemporary Associate Artist Gillian Brent for this piece.

New art groups in North Wales for people living with dementia

Following Denbighshire County Council’s (DCC) Arts Service involvement with Dementia and Imagination, a regional application was made to Arts Council Wales to fund Lost in Art in four counties in autumn 2015.

The application was made on behalf of Denbighshire, Wrexham, Conwy and Flintshire counties. DCC Arts Service shared their expertise to set up the groups which were held in art galleries and community venues. In total six groups took place each lasting for 12 weeks. 






A pupil from a local North Wales school working with one of the Lost in Art participants

The outcome of the project was the production of a regional Lost in Art exhibition catalogue and also four regional exhibitions.

Groups also worked with local schools who had received Dementia Friends training to work together. In some instances the art group then visited the school for another workshop before joining together again for the end of project exhibition and celebration.

The exhibitions held at Venue Cymru and Ruthin Craft Centre were on display between January and end of March.

There are currently two new regional Lost in Art exhibitions on display at the Welsh Government offices (public café area) in Llandudno and Theatr Clwyd, Mold until end of April and beginning of May.

DCC Arts Service have also just received a new grant to run further Lost in Art sessions across the North Wales counties in Autumn 2016.

To find out more about the upcoming groups please contact Siân Fitzgerald:  (sian.fitzgerald@denbighshire.gov.uk).

One of the Regional Lost in Art exhibitions at the Ruthin Craft Centre. Work was on display until 18th March

Connected Communities festival 2016

Plans are underway for 3 local events in Newcastle, Chesterfield and Denbighshire to explore the potential future of Dementia Supportive Communities and what they might look like. The discussions will be shaped by people living with dementia, carers, health professionals, care staff, local service providers and school children, who will take part in creative workshops.

Taking inspiration from the 500th anniversary of the publication in 1516 in Latin of Thomas More’s Utopia, the 2016 Connected Communities Research Festival has the theme of Community Futures and Utopias. From March to June 2016 the Festival is supporting activities across the UK bringing together researchers and communities to creatively explore diverse perspectives on community futures and what ‘utopia’ means for communities in the 21st Century 

The Festival is being undertaken in partnership with The Somerset House Trust as a part of Utopia 2016: A Year of Imagination and Possibility.

The creative responses from the workshops will be shown at the Connected Communities fair in Somerset House between 24th-26th June, and will also include interactive activities with the artists.

In other news...

Dr. Victoria Tischler, has been invited to the organising committee for The First International Research Conference on the Arts and Dementia which will take place in March 2017

The conference will take place from the 9-10 March 2017, and is hosted y the Royal Society of Public Health and Canterbury Christ Church University.

The call for papers for the conference is now open and the deadline for applications is July 2016.

Our next newsletter….

Will be out in June!


We’ll be sharing with you the activities from our three Connected Communities events as well as the work of the study’s three research artists who are coming to their final months working on Dementia and Imagination.


In the meantime, you can follow us on Twitter, Facebook and visit our website for updates.


The Dementia and Imagination research is jointly funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council under the Connected Communities programme. 

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