Picturing memories: Art therapy for older adults living with dementia

Picturing Memories is an art therapy project at the Ben Uri gallery which aims to improve the quality of life for older adults living with dementia.

Jane Landes, art therapist, works in an advisory capacity with Ben Uri gallery’s wellbeing team.

‘Ben Uri is founded on a world class collection of predominantly British and European art, reflecting the work, lives and contribution of émigré artists and their journeys to London. With its themes of ‘Art, Identity and Migration’, one of The Gallery’s stated aims is to ‘ make a real difference to people’s confidence and lives through engagement, creativity and wellbeing’.

Picturing Memories has involved forming a partnership with a local NHS day centre for people with dementia. The participants have embraced the opportunity to engage with the art works, responding with boundless humanity and creativity. Ben Uri’s unique collection has proved a remarkable resource for people to safely explore their shifting identity, as well as internal sense of migration progressively caused by dementia.
The Gallery space (extended by proxy to the day centre) provides the context for the group art therapy. The Ben Uri collection then provides impetus for participants to tell their own stories, create their own art work, to feel connected to each other, the gallery and wider cultural life. The collection provides the focus for two art therapy groups that take place in a local NHS day centre. Participants visit the gallery and thereafter selected reproductions are placed in the day centre and provide an ongoing connection for the art therapy group sessions from week to week.  Gallery catalogues are also referred to.
Participants also have the opportunity to curate and exhibit their own work and the gallery provides a placement opportunity for an art therapy trainee.


Art Therapy in Museums & Galleries: www.atmag.org

British Association of Art Therapists: www.baat.org

Ben Uri: benuri.org.uk

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