Photographic memories help care clients


A photography project at a Jewish Care home has helped residents to connect with the local community.

As part of the charity's creative arts programme, it partnered with inter-generational arts specialist Magic Me and Royal Central School of Speech and Drama students for the project at the Betty and Asher Loftus Centre in Friern Barnet. The resulting series of quirky poster-size photo portraits illustrating the dreams of participants are now displayed around the site.

Magic Me's Lianne Harris said the creative process was as important as the finished works, given that it provided stimulation for residents with dementia. "Some reconnected with happy memories from the past and others to dreams and wishes for now and the future.

"Together we found ways to incorporate the stories and think about what it would look like."

Among those taking part was Sam Joel, 68, a retired professional photographer. His "Dream of Love" involved feasting on latkes and salt beef while listening to rock music.

"It was really good to be holding a camera again," he said. "I enjoyed it and I'm going to put the photo on my mantelpiece."

Another resident, Geoffrey Conway, and his wife, Estelle, created "A Dream of Shared Celebration", incorporating Haitian and Jewish themes. "It was good to meet the students," he said. "We had different traditional views and ended up with two cultures taking photos together."

His wife added that "in our photo, one of the students is holding a box with the key to the villa in Corfu where Geoffrey and I met 47 years ago".

The latest example of the charity's commitment to the creative arts was Colourscape, a large walk-in sculpture which was installed in the gardens of its Princess Alexandra Home in Stanmore at the weekend.

It was the centrepiece of a summer arts festival for residents of all Jewish Care homes, as well as families and carers. Designed and built by Welsh-based artists, Colourscape structures have featured in events throughout the world.

Jewish Care creative arts development manager Caroline D'Souza said it was also "the culmination of our work with our partners from the Eye Music Trust, whose aim is to open up music to as wide an audience as possible".

Colourscape offered a strong sensory experience and residents were able to walk, or be taken in their wheelchairs, through nearly 100 highly-coloured chambers.

"Going through the structure, participants were met by musicians whose workshops encouraged residents to try out a variety of acoustic instruments including rain sticks, drums which replicated the sound of the sea and giant metal gongs," Ms D'Souza explained.

"There were also farm animals outside, samba workshops and abstract painting and ancient Chinese printing to complement the sensory experiences."

Participants included Celia Lewis, a resident of Clore Manor in Hendon, who said: "I love colour and I love music."

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