I’ve just received my Dementia Friends badge and a booklet with information about how to include and support people living with dementia. The dementia friends training is simple to complete, and a useful starting point for information and awareness. Do visit the website https://www.dementiafriends.org.uk to find out more and register as a friend!

Arts4Dementia (A4D) have also produced a thorough report and research data about learning approaches within arts provision for people living with dementia, extending the work done by MoMA’s Meet Me programme. The A4D report Reawakening the Mind focusses on people living with early stage dementia engaging with a range of arts based programmes including music, dance, drama, photography and art. The report states: “cognitive stimulation – such as engaging in arts activity – elevates people above the stresses of dementia and can delay degeneration and improve memory, thinking, social interaction, communication and quality of life.”  (Gould, V. (2013) Reawakening the Mind, Arts 4 Dementia, p.7).

Useful links:


I’ve recently been preparing materials for the next ‘underlined’ workshop, whilst also reading part of Nato Thompson’s Living as Form (Socially Engaged Art 1991-2011), an interesting book that wrestles with many of the topics also discussed at the Engage Conference 2017 – participation, dialogue and Community engagement. The book is particularly useful in examining socially engaged art-forms within a multidisciplinary approach including social sciences, psychology and politics, rather than through an exclusively art-history perspective. The book, and accompanying website www.creativetime.org discuss examples and context, raising necessary questions without straightforward answers… A quote from artist Rick Lowe, working on Project Row Houses stood out: “.. one of the students told me that, sure, the work reflected what was going on in his community. but it wasn’t what the community needed. If I was an artist, he said, why didn’t I come up with some kind of creative solution to issues instead of just telling people like him what they already knew.” (Nato Thompson, quoting artist Rick Lowe, in Living as Form, 2012, p.26). Somehow, community arts need to navigate the tension between documentation, reflection and action…

Photographer Edward Burtynsky, also wrestles with the artistic tension between documentation and action. His stunning photographs document environments formed or altered by industry and human intervention. The website www.artworksforchange.org is just one example of how Burtynsky has worked collaboratively with other organisations to link his photographs with ‘action pledges’ and educational information about the issues raised. Burtynsky has a thoughtful, balanced approach to the political and social impact of his photography, openly discussing the ambiguity and contradictions that occur (see his TEDx talk manufactured landscapes and green education). Often he gains access to the sites he photographs through working with the corporations who own and manage them, at the same time as wanting to raise awareness of our global impact and the personal choices that contribute to the environmental challenges of our age.

Chris Jordan photographs environments and wildlife impacted by human behavior. Jordan’s work directly aims to communicate factual information that we know into something that we feel and therefore act upon. I particularly like his artworks that make visual images out of environmental statistics (see Gyre, 2009 above from his collection Running the Numbers II). Video works like Albatros, 2017 (link below) accompany some of his photographs, which provide shocking evidence of the effect of environmental waste on birds.

Chris Jordan’s ALBATROSS film trailer from chris jordan photographic arts on Vimeo.


[Jessie Davies, untitled, (2017)]


The next underlined project workshop will explore a sense of ‘place’. I’ve recently been investigating collage and mixed media in my own practice, and I’m busy preparing collage materials and resources for the forthcoming underlined workshop. Why? Because there is something about collage that breaks down barriers, and brings to light unexpected juxtapositions, connections and flow… But perhaps it also goes deeper… so here’s my five thoughts on why collage?

1. Collaging found materials can ‘ground’ the work in the ‘real world’ – the tangible ephemera of our normal lives, it’s about being in the moment… right here, right now…

[Antonio Ole,  Township Wall no.664, (2004)]


2. Collaging brings together disparate elements to bring unexpected connections… provoking thought… making us look again at things we take for granted, or see as unimportant…

[Kurt Schwitters, Merz Gernfleck, (1920)]


3.  Collage breaks down barriers between ‘high’ art and everyday life…

[Robert Rauschenburg, Untitled, (1984)]


4. historically, collage has been used to challenge ideology, hegemony and prejudice…

[Hannah Hoch, Lustige Person, (1932) (translated New Woman)]


5. ..and simply to celebrate an exploration of form.. for the joy of making, being and viewing…

[Henri Matisse, The Lagoon, (1947)]


Speaking at the ENGAGE conference ‘fringe’ events, Lara Goodband is a freelance curator working with Invisible dust, an organisation that brings artists and scientists together on collaborative projects to promote environmental engagement. Lara and others, from Invisible dust, gave a fascinating talk reflecting their ‘hands on’ approach to curation. Seeing her role as a curator/ facilitator for a project, right through from selection of project proposals, setting up visits with the artist to locations before the work is planned, enabling research, contacts for local information, interviews, and support; Lara also spoke about liaising with the venues and artists, and managing invisible dust’s own PR expectations in relation to artistic considerations. Lara’s flexible style of curation has led to some innovative integration of newly commissioned, contemporary style work within existing more traditional collections, an example of which was her curation of Offshore, 2017, displayed at the Feren’s Art Gallery and Maritime Museum, Hull – integrating contemporary sculpture, video and sound installation with selected elements of the existing museum collection.

In a talk ranging from cucumber straighteners… through multi-sensory glasses and ‘blind photography’ to a conceptual historical art research project based on a Rembrandt painting some Dutch artists linked to public opinions about Brexit, Lara’s talk showed how important making connections and negotiating unexpected cultural links were to the work of a curator.

This film of Lara’s project Microclimate, working with artist Gayle Chong Kwan, shows how innovative links can be made in participatory community arts. This project also enabled Lara to highlight the need for curators and organisers to make determined links with groups outside of the mainstream art-culture-going community, including consideration of barriers such as transport and timings, to promote inclusive participation.

Find out more about Invisible Dust from their website

Click here, For more information about ENGAGE