Everybody Matters I

HAVE EXPERIENCE OF doing art workshops in seven different ‘homes’ covering dementia, stroke and learning difficulties and have had heart-

warming experiences with each disability. However, they are all very different. I did a ‘boats on the sea’ picture in two different

‘homes’ which proved interesting. The first was in a dementia unit.

I gave the other I told the participants what we were going

to do, and spread newspaper on the table in front of the two ladies who were going to paint the sky, giving each a brush and some light blue paint.

participants wavy bottomed boat shapes I had drawn for them to colour in, so that when assembled on the picture they’d look realistic. As the original painters finished I moved the newspaper on, washed the brushes, giving the next two ladies darker blue for the sea. As the sea was a larger area, eventually I moved it on so everybody had painted. While painting one lady said to the other ‘Aren’t we

lucky that they organise lovely things like this for us to do?’

It’s comments like that which make all the

preparation worthwhile. The following year I did the same workshop with

residents with learning difficulties to note their response. Although this was only a limited experiment they reacted differently as expected. The procedure was identical. They have lower concentration levels. They are restless and are not concerned about doing it carefully. They wanted to add more things and get on and were thrilled at the completed picture. People have asked me which disability I prefer working Initially I’d say dementia, but each have their


triumphs and problems. Dementia residents are always eager to please, slow and careful, but ‘come alive’ when working and get excited on completion of the picture. But they are very possessive, and are always reluctant to change the starting colour I’ve given them. When participants in every ‘home’ have completed my

prepared work, they are free to do ‘their own thing’ on a clean piece of paper and use my mixed media box. Dementia residents just sit and look at the blank paper. They need precise instructions. Learning difficulties residents need to be constantly occupied otherwise they get up and wander off! But they excitedly sort my media box as if it’s a treasure chest and can’t wait to try new things. Stroke victims are usually mentally alert but if more than one in the group has only one ‘able’ arm and/or is unable to speak it is frustrating for them and tedious for me! God bless them all. None of us know what the future holds. Miss Wendy Dedicott

DPSE Dip Art History (Merit), MCollT Exhibited artist and published author


Ability Needs Magazine

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