Artwork created by people living with dementia is now on display at the National Maritime Museum as part of an innovative collaboration with charity Age Exchange, part of Community Integrated Care.
The artwork is the result of a project called ‘All Aboard’, which combines the museums historic Travel Journal Collection of diaries, letters, photography, drawings and paintings (dating from the 17th Century to the present day), with arts works created by Age Exchange service users living with dementia and their family carers. Their art works are inspired by the museum collection and their own life experiences of travel, including their experience of emigration, or of family holidays, and even journeys of the imagination. The project has utilised Age Exchange’s model of reminiscence arts designed to measurably improve the well-being of people living with dementia or with other memory problems.
The project was announced in 2020, in response to the increased isolation experienced by those living with dementia during the global pandemic. It’s funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund which supports a range of projects that bring Museum collections closer to people.
As part of the project, forty participants supported by Age Exchange and the museum were sent All Aboard art box, with the appearance of a suitcase, containing memories of holidays gone-by, archive travel material, sensory stimuli, and arts materials.
They were then invited to take part in workshops taking inspiration from the National Maritime Museum’s archives, when travel was often much more time-consuming and challenging.
Participants then created art using a variety of textiles, reflecting on their own travels and experiences, to promote wellbeing, confidence and a sense of purpose.
This artwork will now go on display on the Great Map at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich until the end of January.
David Savill, Artistic Director of Age Exchange said: “For many people, the prospect of travelling right now presents a lot of risks and considerations, but for those living with dementia, the barriers for travel are even higher. This project gives people we work with, and their carers, the opportunity and space to contemplate a world without barriers again, with incredibly powerful inspiration from the archives of the National Maritime Museum. The responses this has prompted have been moving and really show the true effect creative practices can have on memory and wellbeing. We’re incredibly grateful to Royal Museums Greenwich for collaborating with us on challenging the isolating effects of the pandemic on those living with dementia.”
Left: ‘Seascape’ by Donna Right: ‘Treasure Island’ by Kam, Richard and Michael.