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Dementia and Imagination

Moving forward: our second newsletter

Volume 1 Issue 2 October 2014

Our second newsletter has arrived already and we can’t believe how fast time is going!

Our newsletter is for anyone with an interest in dementia research and the use of the arts to improve well-being for people living with dementia. We hope that our newsletter will give you a unique insight into our research and how a research project happens, as we share our progress with you. We'll let you know where we have been, who we have seen and what we have been up to, as our project progresses, giving you exclusive access to new research.

For this reason, you can receive this newsletter automatically by email, in a printable format, in large print and it is also available in Welsh. For our online readers, there are lots of links dotted throughout this newsletter, where you can click to discover more. 

We’ll be taking the opportunity to focus on each of our sites in turn, and in this newsletter you can find out a bit more about Denbighshire’s group. But we have also included a short update from our other two sites as well.

With thanks to all our contributors for their input and to you for your support so far!

The D & I team

​Dementia and Imagination Project on Twitter!

We’re excited to announce that we now have our own page on Twitter, where you can keep in contact with the team and our activities. You can find us at:


We will be using #DandI to highlight our activities, which you can     also use to link to our project. 

What works, for who and in what circumstances, in arts interventions for people living with Dementia?

Our project is aiming to use a new method of research to uncover specifically what works when creating an arts intervention for people living with dementia. 

We've published our first paper to explain the method we'll be using called a 'realist' approach. Our first publication has been co-written by several members team and explains the protocol we are using for our project. Our approach considers how a visual arts interventions works in producing particular outcomes for people living with dementia. We hope our research will be able to evidence what can make for a successful arts intervention. 

Access our first publication here

Focus on: Denbighshire

As part of the Dementia and Imagination project, we are working with several arts organisations to provide stimulating and enjoyable arts sessions for our participants. In Wales, Denbighshire County Council’s art service are supporting the project, and we are delighted to be working with their experienced team.

Siân Fitzgerald, Arts Officer for Denbighshire County Council explains why they wanted to be involved in this project:

"The Arts Service value the opportunity to be part of such an important research project. I believe that establishing a body of evidence to support the work we do and the positive effects of arts intervention is of paramount importance, especially as we move towards challenging financial times within local authorities."

Rolling objects to make impressions in clay,with a cup of tea near at hand.

Siân Hughes is the lead artist for the Denbighshire site and works on numerous other projects both in Denbighshire and in nearby counties in England and Wales. Here she explains how the sessions are structured:

“The group developed work inspired by Gallery visits. They experimented with different materials and created sculptures, and canvasses collaged with cardboard and wood. They also worked with clay, and found they could make sounds with these.

At the beginning of each session, after tea and cake, we visited the Gallery and focussed on one particular piece, where the group explored colours, textures, shapes and processes. This flowed into a demonstration, making a creative link with the piece.

The participants took part in an initial exploration of materials while in the Gallery. This linked the Gallery to the workroom where they then created their own pieces over several weeks, inspired by the regular visits.

We have just completed the first block in Denbighshire with participants who gelled as a group and developed in confidence and skills as the sessions progressed. They looked forward to the sessions and produced a range of exciting work. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity of working with them and helping to enable their creativity

to develop. They are keen to continue with their artwork explorations as a group and a new class is about to be set up for them” 

The process evolves over the course of the group’s time together, often in response to the group and spontaneous events that occur. The hanging ceramic instruments (pictured below) were exhibited on a mobile hanging following an incidental noise which happened unexpectedly when one of the pieces was tapped against accidentally. Siân was able to respond to this with the group by re-visiting the musicality of the ceramic pieces on several occasions, experimenting with and enjoying the sounds created.

The group are also assisted by a second support artist so that helped in creating and developing their work. For the first group, artist Tara Dean worked alongside Siân Hughes for the group sessions:

“Being involved with the Dementia and Imagination project in Rhyl Arts Centre this summer has been a very rewarding experience.

It has been interesting to see how the group has become more vocal in the discussions in the gallery. Also about the work that they have created, we try at the end of each session to look at everyone's work. We discuss the different ways that each person has interpreted the materials they have been working with.

It has been an inspiring experience it has given me the opportunity to be involved in a project that I feel is invaluable to all. As some of the group say when they leave that the time goes fast!”

You can find out more about Denbighshire Country Council’s art services on their blog: (Welsh) (English)

On twitter: @Celf_DCC_Arts

And Facebook:

​Introducing Our Research Artists

Our project is unique in featuring 3 research artists, who will be creating responses through their own medium of work. We have one artist based near each of the intervention sites. This means that as well as producing the more familiar research papers and reports, each artist will make their response to the project.

At the same time, members of the research team will be asking the artists to consider how their involvement in the project effects their work. Each of our research artists works in different mediums with their own style. The artists work will be available for public display at the end of our intervention groups. We hope they will offer a new interpretation of the project through art. This should make for some fascinating outputs to the project!

You can find out more about each of our artists below: 

Jeni McConnell - Research Artist in Newcastle| @jenimcconnell

“In my creative practice I focus on the connection between people and place, seeking to question how, through using all our available senses we form our own understanding of who we are, how we become inextricably bound to ‘our place’, or places and also to people.

Memory forms a significant part of these interconnections and so, here, the disconnection and breaking down of those formed associations becomes the pivot point for my research and response.

As a socially engaged artist, I will most likely be encountered out and about, engaging with the public during this project.

I have spoken to quite a lot of people about the project, which has subsequently increased the number of people following me on Twitter and a few also on my artist Facebook page because of this. I attended the Creativity, Health and Well Being seminar at Mostyn in June, where I was able to share with other delegates about the project. I also attended Storybox at Cornerhouse in Manchester in July (with Carol), where again we were able to share news of the project.”

From, ‘Dolbelydr’, no date, with permission from the artist.

You can see copies of Jeni’s Dolbelydr book in Leeds Art College, Tate Gallery London and the National Library of Wales.

Penny Klepuszewska - Research Artist in Derbyshire

“With a high level of engagement and commitment to my work, and to the subjects I explore, this is an important, and exciting, opportunity for me to extend the existing collaborative methods within my artistic practice, to build upon my reputation for handling sensitive subject matter, and to bring current issues into public sight with integrity.

Intrinsic to my work are the details and scenes, the small fragilities and brutalities of contemporary human existence. The underlying themes of separation, solitude, isolation and exclusion persist concurrently with an exploration of the spaces we inhabit and the objects with which we surround ourselves. From an intimate, engaged and often playful process of collection and collaboration, I create both accounts of the real world and self-contained fictions, developing work that incorporates photography, text and sound.

I have taken an immersive approach to the project, and am embedded locally to my research site. No longer a visitor to the area, this is now my hospital, my community, and the people I am meeting are all members of my neighbourhood.

I am establishing how to approach the subject. My previous work, Living Arrangements, was about making the elderly visible, so they had to be seen, as well as wanting to create their sense of isolation. But what will this project uncover? And how will I conceptually present it? How to show what I might not be able to show?”

From 'Living Arrangements', 2008-2009, with permission from the artist.

You can see some of Penny’s work on several websites:

Carol Hanson - Research Artist in Denbighshire

“'My practice merges cartoon illustrations, animation, unloved paper materials and empty retail spaces to create ‘cartoon shop’ installations inspired by local heritage and communities.

Humour can not only raise a smile but can raise difficult subjects too and I hope to use my public art to start conversation and challenge misconceptions.'

I am really enjoying my time in North Wales. The team has been very welcoming and it's been wonderful to witness the positive effect of art-making in the sessions, triggering old memories and creating new ones. There are definitely some colourful characters here! The group has a great sense of humour and it's been an honour to share those fun moments as well as the more poignant ones, both in the gallery and the studio work-room. The tea and cake always goes down a treat and the amazing array of art that has been created will no doubt look brilliant at the first exhibition. I know some of the group are keen to continue after the project ends so it's great to see such positive engagement already. Some people write a lot of older people off when there's so much more life to be lived, memories to be made and stories to be told; I can't wait to see what the next session brings.”

'Python and Weezell's Pop Up Pet Shop' preview, 2014, with permission from the artist.

'Pickering and Fudge's Cartoon Tea Room' , 2013 , with permission from the artist.

Carol has a new installation as part of Leeds ‘Light Night’ on October 3rd, where you can see her work ‘Python and Weezell's Pop Up Pet Shop' in full.

​Connected Communities: a Review of the Showcase in Cardiff

This year, the Connected Communities showcase was held in Cardiff. Last year the team attended the event to introduce the Dementia and Imagination project and our proposed activity. This year provided an opportunity for an update on our progress as the project moves from its first phase setting up the study to the more practical aspects of running our intervention groups. Our stand featured a poster and hand-outs with details of the project, we also featured in a short video explaining our project .

It was a great opportunity to make connections and find out about other projects that are looking at other aspects of community and place and there were some projects looking at dementia from other perspectives.

Next year, following on from our intervention groups, we hope to present an interactive stand with some of our initial findings.

​A short update from our intervention sites


A journey, an experience, a story, a creation, an image have all been outcomes of our Dementia and Imagination Research Project workshops. We have had the pleasure of working with up to 10 residents at Oakdale Lodge Care Home in South Shields. We have been looking at light, colour, texture and sensory activity in response to images, projection and installation inspired by well known art works, and through this we have been stimulating creativity as well as building relationships. We visited the Baltic Art Gallery in Newcastle, rousing new feelings and responses.

As part of our celebration event we will be culminating all of the works and journeys through a multi-sensory installation.

Images by Phyllis Christopher, 2014, with permission.


A pre-meet has taken place which gave participants, artists and researchers the chance to meet each other before the intervention begins. Associate Artists from Nottingham Contemporary will be taking inspiration from the recent exhibition 'Somewhat Abstract' and delivering a range of creative activities over the next twelve weeks.

The first few sessions generated discussion about what art is and what it can be; participants had contrasting opinions and found it interesting how differently people in the group view abstract art.


The first group have now finished their time with the artists, with an exhibition of their work now in place until the 18th October.

The second group have attended their pre-meet and first group sessions. They have been looking at a special ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ that is currently being housed in the gallery. The group had the first look inside helping to unpack the specially designed box, which unfolds with multiple drawers and shelves for displaying and containing objects. The group will be looking to make things to be included in the cabinet before it moves to its next location.  

Website Updates

We’ve added some new areas to the website. Take a look by clicking on the tabs at the top of the homepage (

​In Other News...

Several of the research team presented at the British Society of Gerontology’s annual conference from the 1st to the 3rd September, held in Southampton this year.

Dr Gill Windle, Andrew Newman, Anna Goulding (all pictured above) presented on some of the early procedures and methods for the project. There were two further papers from Teri Howson and Kat Algar on the use of mixing art and social science methods in research. 

​Our Next Newsletter

Our newsletter offers you exclusive access to our research project as it happens. We are aiming to publish our newsletter bi-monthly, with our next newsletter coming to you in December.

We will turn attention to one of our other intervention sites as well as hear from researcher Carys Jones explaining her use of a new economic method called ‘Social Return of Investment’ to look at ‘value’ of the project, which looks at some of those less easy to monetise and describe areas.

We’ll also let you know about some of the research teams travelling as part of the project and some of the things we’ve been coming across along the way.

The Dementia and Imagination research is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council under the Connected Communities programme.

Important Information

We are happy for you to share this newsletter with other people, but we do not wish for any part of it to be changed or used for commercial purposes. Images are subject to copyright and permission should be sought for their use. Occasionally, we may share images from other sources for which we have had permission to use.

The information contained in this newsletter is for general information purposes only. The information is provided by the Dementia and Imagination project team. We endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct. However, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the newsletter or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained in the newsletter. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore at your own risk.

In no event will we be liable for any loss or damage including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage whatsoever arising from loss of data or profits arising out of, or in connection with, the use of this newsletter.

We may sometimes include links to websites and other information which are not under the control of the Dementia and Imagination project team. The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them.

Dementia and Imagination

Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC)

Bangor University, Ardudwy, Normal Site, Holyhead Road, Bangor, LL57 2PZ,Wales, UK


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