Memories session two

Window light

Window light

I’m not sure if I should know where I am going with this project, but I don’t. I have perhaps more of a notion that the work will provide/produce something that has a resonance for the users at the sessions. I certainly hope that someone else, other than me, will find something out about themselves by creating a small, but definite portrait of a facet of themselves with photographs collected into some kind of narrative.

The memories project that I’m running with the Echoes Group had its second session today; last week I briefed those present about the project; this week most of the users brought things to show (mostly old photographs) and tell. I had an enthusiastic comment from one of the clinical staff who wasn’t at last week’s event but had heard how engaged the ‘ward users’ had been about the session – unfortunately they couldn’t be here this week due to staffing issues.

I was there early, I’m either going to be early or late owing to the vagaries of the bus system in Oxford city centre, and was a bit concerned that the naked white walls of last week were covered by a new installation, thereby reducing the overall light in the room which might have hampered the photography – in the end it turned ok.

Window light and textile installation at Fusion Arts

Window light and textile installation at Fusion Arts

As with last week, the notion of looking back helped free the users to open up and talk, this week they nearly all had mementos to use to illustrate their narratives. Liz, has an identical twin sister and brought along some gifts from her, this twin has been in America since 1976 and it is clear that she misses her, born ten minutes later than Liz. We took some pictures of some gifts and I will scan some images that she brought in. Liz’s husband, a milkman, also featured in her memories, he was clearly a good milkman as she had a picture of some gifts that he received from his customers when he retired.

John brought along a set of pictures of his wife Pat, declaring them to be a portrait of his wife including the telegram that she sent to her mother when she qualified as a doctor. Richard had some interesting photographs that were doubly interesting because of the text on the reverse of the photographs. Graham tried to find a wedding album from 55 years ago, but has failed but he did bring some very early twentieth century photographs which he will bring again next week for me to scan. Tom, the Artscape leader, brought in some of his memorabilia including some of his degree work from Brighton where he graduated in Fine Arts – I’d like to see more of this work.

There was perhaps too much discussion. Tom felt that the day was a bit haphazard and gave me some advice about how to structure next week’s session – to have the users do some practical work on their own, to give them a little focus for at least 30 – 45 minutes. I have an idea about what that might be.

Below are two images that I created as part of what will be one of my memories:



3rd April 1976

3rd April 1976



5 thoughts on “Memories session two

    • I think I saw a simpler metaphor – a light into the lives of the users of the group. This was before I set up the tables, before anyone else came in – a very quiet few moments thinking about the project, thinking about memories and wondering what the session might reveal. And whilst it wasn’t anything hugely dramatic I did learn more about all the users, about how they all had wonderful stories to tell. For example, one of the users offers himself as an advocate for refugees and told a recent story of how he helped an Iraqi refugee in court for a day accused of affray; what does that say our ‘our’ sense of justice, that we allow someone’s day in court to be arbitrated by someone who has been clinically diagnosed as demented?

  1. It’s very frightening that someone so young belongs to this group, the couple in your memento image are probably only in their 50’s now, someone of my generation, or younger, makes you glad for the health you have.

    • The couple in the slide? They are of me and my wife Alison; the date on the slide is April 12th the 1976, we got married on the 3rd. The rings that hold the slide upright are my wedding ring and the cygnet ring Alison gave me for our engagement. The image will be used as part of a memoir that I plan to make – I will probably do two or three. We are both ok! I know I look dashingly young and handsome – that didn’t last, but Alison is still very beautiful, so the memory is very treasured.
      Dementia doesn’t discriminate on age you are quite correct, there is a least one lady who is very close to my age suffering.

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