Treasured Possessions Exhibition Launch at the Millennium Forum on Friday 2nd June

Proud staff and volunteers at the launch

The exhibition is the result of an arts process funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland (Arts and Older People Programme) which enabled DEEDS members living with dementia to make a link to the Tower Museum for a dementia friendly session looking at the people’s 10 artefacts, reminiscing and engaging in storytelling about the objects. Betty Doherty from the Tower Museum commented “The Tower Museum was delighted to work with DEEDS to provide object handling workshops for their members in the Museum specifically designed for people living with Dementia.  The Museum is working to becoming Dementia Friendly which can be seen in the work that we do with Nursing and Care homes as well as our exhibitions. This new project has added a new dimension to the work which is helping to make Derry and Strabane a dementia friendly region.”

Member enjoying refreshments at the launch

Lisa Heaney, Access and Inclusion Officer welcomed everyone to the Forum

Our volunteer Colette with Patricia

Our volunteer Liz with Marie who attended the exhibition

Back in their social groups the members explored what possessions they may have at home that they treasure most.    Each of the six DEEDS Social Groups were then photographed with their treasured possessions by the artist photographer Emmett McSheffrey who also led workshops examining how portraiture has changed from its beginnings in paintings, cameos, silhouettes and leading into photography. The members then explored taking portraits within their groups using polaroid cameras. Finally, two members from each of the groups were chosen to represent their group for a large-scale portrait with their Treasured Possession.  The artist photographer Emmett McSheffrey noted: “The exhibition encourages you to look at the individual and group portraits to look beyond their dementia diagnosis and see the person.”

Support worker Wendy with John and Ann

The members then worked with Community Dramatist Patsy Devine to have their stories recorded for the exhibition. These group and individual portraits have formed the exhibition alongside the members’ stories. Patsy Devine added “Like us all, each person has their life story to tell. Our lives include elements like possessions at home that are dear to us. Take the time to listen to the stories that the members have recorded about their own objects– each offering a short glimpse into a moment in time. Or see how this is brought to life in the short film. And think about what you yourself may have at home, that you hold close as your very own Treasured Possession. “

Sinead Devine, Deeds Co-ordinator noted how thrilled staff were that DEEDS was funded by the Arts Council to create the project. “The arts are a great connector for people living with dementia. This funding gave our members access to high quality arts provision which enabled them to express themselves with photography and storytelling. It also linked those with dementia to the Museum Services in the Derry as part of our linking to the community focus.”

Lorraine Calderwood, Arts Programmes Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented, We know that taking part in arts activities can raise self-esteem, boost confidence and motivation, as well as help to relieve stress, loneliness worries and pain.  The Arts and Older People Programme aims to increase opportunities for older people to engage in the arts and more recently, has focused on delivering arts activity within care home settings, working with residents living with dementia and their carers. Thanks to The National Lottery players, Baring Foundation and Public Health Agency, the Arts and Older People Programme is providing meaningful opportunities for our older people to take part in the arts, enriching their lives for the better and the Arts Council is thrilled to support this wonderful, engaging project from The Old Library Trust.”

The exhibition continues until 25th June at the Millennium Forum where it is estimated that over nine thousand people will view it throughout that time.