Simon Ripley is an artist who is working with people with Alzheimer’s and dementia at Franklyn Hospital, alongside one of our speakers Carrie Clarke. He writes:
Participatory work has begun to influence the direction of my own art work and I want to make this link more explicit – to focus on my response to illness and also patients’ responses to my work so that there is a spirit of collaboration and a two way process that goes beyond the straightforward delivery of art workshops. I want this project to focus on understanding the processes of making art and to go beyond the ‘therapeutic’ benefits. I want to make art as the primary focus rather than art being a vehicle for well being. I want to see the person, not the disability and explore the possibility that the creative act exists outside memory. From the work I have already seen, I have witnessed making art as a process of communication ‘in the moment’ which is not dependent upon remembered artistic experience or ability or even upon past personality. Alzheimer’s enables a person to step out of these limitations and to be creative in a way that perhaps they never were before the disease. For me, working in an abstract way in my own work, this idea of making art independent of identity is very liberating. In abstract art for example, how do we make meaning, when there is no sense of the self?
You can follow the development of this project in his blog.