ALZHEIMER'S AUSTRALIA VICTORIA
THE MAC.ART ONE-DAY WORKSHOPS (2006/2007)
‘THE MAC.ART ONE-DAY WORKSHOPS’
ARTWORKS CREATED by more than 30 PARTICIPANTS
ALZHEIMER’S AUSTRALIA VICTORIA HAWTHORN VICTORIA
Fun in the Sun
1m x .9m
1m x .9m
LOWER FAR LEFT:
Tree of Life
1.1m x .77m
“In the situation that people like me find themselves it makes me feel good to have created something wonderful. Planning and thinking about colour and design and knowing that everybody is working together and putting in their best has made my brain tick over. When I wrap myself in colour, it makes me forget about home and work, it takes me away from the usual things of the day. It feels like something is stabilizing within me. It feels as if I can hold onto a piece of reality. It is an anchor for me in so much uncertainty”.
These are the words of one of the artists who contributed to the series of artworks produced at the Dementia and Memory Community Centre at Alzheimer’s Australia, Victoria.
The series of one-day workshops were held in October and November 2006 and April 2007. The workshops produced the three permanent artworks know as – Floral Dance, Fun in the Sun and Tree of Life. These three artworks demonstrate that individuals living with dementia not only have the ability to paint and think in creative ways but, they can totally immerse themselves in the creative moment. The opportunity to enjoy, and take pride in their achievement is one of the most striking factors common to all of the workshops.
Like the MAC.ART Coat of Many Colours program, the workshops utilize common household items and a large selection of pre-cut stencils. Combined with a variety of painting and dry brush techniques the theme of the day quickly unfolds.
As each artist works on their individual section, all the colours begin to blend successfully and the artists begin to exchange views and reminiscences as they work together. A sense of unity and collaboration in the development of the overall design strengthens the group. At the conclusion of the workshop the name of each participant is recorded on the work. This further establishes and cements the feeling of satisfaction and pride in the work, especially as the finished artwork becomes part of the institution.
For most artists the idea that the work is permanent and will live after them is reassuring. For those struggling with the care of someone, or with the prospect of living with dementia themselves, an opportunity for creative expression is especially valued because it is so rare.
As each individual reflects on the dual experience of grief and loss associated with the disease progression, they take heart that they are still able to create and present to the world a lasting and worthwhile thing of beauty.
Dr. Julie Gross McAdam gratefully acknowledges Alzheimer’s Australia Victoria.