First NHS Arora Film Club

We screened our first Arora Film Club at Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway this evening. 

Munching choc ices, 4 of us enjoyed a classic film and laughed and cried.

One gentleman said ‘I’ve never been in there, An Lanntair, thank you for bringing the film, it’s very good. I’ve seen nothing like that for ages!’

The first ‘Hills of Home’ DEEP vinyl


On the first day of Dementia Awareness Week 2017, as luck would have it, the very first completed vinyl from the DEEP funded Hills of Home Project was installed at Blar Buidhe Care Centre.

This vinyl has an interesting story behind it.

Through our work with people in care centres and hospitals, we find ourselves having really fascinating conversations about things that are triggered by arts events and sessions. One series of conversations was based around a lady talking about blank bare walls or uninspiring pictures. I asked her what she would like to see on the wall and she said ‘The Hills of Home” (she is from Balallan).

Several further conversations came about with other people telling me what they would like to see every day, the kinds of views that inspire and connect people with themselves and the landscape. Several ideas came back – Ness, Balallan, Keose, Loch Erisort, Stornoway town, and this one which is Lazy Corner.

Jon Macleod, around the time of his ‘Sunwise’ exhibition at An Lanntair, went out with Norman to the harbour and they each took some images, taking all the while about memories and the way older men used to sit around and pass the time of day chatting and smoking at Lazy Corner.

Then followed further conversations about which aspects of the image are important – the boats, the names, the Castle, ropes, the Lifeboat. Images were cropped and returned to Norman by Jon for further discussion. The first image selected faced away from the Castle and had a shellfish lorry in the background, prompting more conversations about what must be in the image to be an accurate representation for Norman. This image was selected as the one which incorporated the essential elements.

Discussions were then taking place amongst the team at Blar Buidhe about how overwhelming the final full colour image might be in the space and they wondered about grayscale. Paula took the discussion to the DEEP gathering in Inverness and several thoughts came forward – that some colour was probably important for depth perception for people with dementia and for orientation within the image.

There were also really interesting conversations led by Agnes Houston about how older people are perceived ‘I’m living now, in full colour!’ was one particularly powerful comment.

Jon took all of this information back to the Care Centre and had a discussion with Norman and Peter, the Manager and they came up with the idea of highlighting the important parts for Norman, as in cinematography, or religious art, often the most iconic, important aspects of the image are somehow brighter.

This has turned out to be a brilliant solution because now the vinyl is installed, it really does draw the eye to the most personally important aspects of the image and references memory in the past/present aspect of black and white/colour contrast.

Formal images to follow but in the meantime, enjoy the story and the installation images.

Further vinyls are being planned, the next one with Alex Boyd at Western Isles Hospital, Stornoway, on Erisort Ward. Come along to the Ward Ceilidh on Friday 2nd June at 1.30pm to see some projections of Alex’s potential images for the wall and join in with the discussion about how images make us feel. Other images will be completed later in the project including the original ‘Hills of Home’ at Balallan and images of Ness as well as Barra, Benbecula and other smaller projects for care centre bedrooms.

With grateful thanks to everyone involved and to DEEP for funding this important project to personalise surroundings in care centres. And equally grateful thanks to everyone involved in the discussion and evolution of this project, which is much, much richer for all of your carefully considered input.

Norman has plenty to say about the image but I will leave that to go with the formal pictures later. If you aren’t planning a visit to Blar Buidhe, have a look in the KJ Macdonald pharmacy window in Stornoway – it has a mini version in there this week.

Memory Garden

Today’s final push on the Memory Garden was massively successful. 

Almost everything is planted except some berries and some herbs, berries will go in this week and herbs will be planted on the ward.

The dome floor will be sealed and painted shortly.

Just look at the lovely opportunities to discover and be stimulated by colour, birds, movement fragrance and the seating helpfully around.

Plenty of opportunity to sit outside and plant too, or just to enjoy a cup of tea in a shady spot.

I hope that everyone feels the love that went in to this – particularly in the messages ❤️

DAW Window

If you are making your way to Stornoway (haha) please take a look at our display for Dementia Awareness Week in KJ Macdonald, Pharmacy window all week (Kenny Frogans, I’m reliably informed!).

We couldn’t showcase everything so we decided to show two of the things we are doing right now. The memory boxes are being launched now across the islands and the image is a smaller version of the vinyl going up at Blar Buidhe on Monday morning, created by ‘Popeye’ and Jon Macleod. The image was stripped of colour because the full colour version was overwhelming in the space and the colour remaining represents what is important about Lazy Corner.

Here is Peter Venus appreciating a sneak preview before the full size version goes up at his workplace on Monday.

We put our award in there and posters about this week’s events and our collaborations with Western Isles Libraries, Museums and Alzheimer Scotland. Kathleen from the library added suitable books to the display, helpful for sharing conversations with people who need conversation prompts with images on themes.

Food Festival at Solas


Today, we used Yorkshire Halloumi from Yorkshire Dama Cheese to make one of Razan’s own recipes with asparagus and we tried Moroccan mint tea. We also tried out the butter making churn from the crofting memory box. Unfortunately, we also managed to set off the fire alarm so it wasn’t all smooth sailing. What a lovely day for being out in the sunshine, though. :-/ Apologies to the fire crew and everyone who had to listen to the alarms. ❤

Gill Thompson, Printmaker

I met Gill at Western Isles Hospital, Stornoway this morning at 11am. The first thing we did was to observe the one minute’s silence, where most of us at reception were in tears at the thought of everyone affected by the Manchester attack and particularly in light of the two girls from Barra being there at the time.

Moving on to the wonderful work that has been continuing at the Memory Garden, I think we were both uplifted by the sunshine and the blooming flowers everywhere. Just imagine the benefits that people on the ward will feel from being out in the sunshine among the flowers and the love that was put into this work from the community.

Gill started imagining the art pieces that we create together as birds, larger than life to ensure that people with limited vision or depth perception can enjoy them and that as art pieces, they can remain all year. She imagined three pieces as a collection or as separate pieces around the garden, depending on what we come up with.

Gill worked with one gentleman today but the aim is to work with as many people as want to be involved.

The art pieces will be collages, created together, which will then be made into digital files for printing. More news as this aspect of the project continues.

Join us at the Memory Garden (access from the road opposite the dental surgery) on Saturday 27th May 12-2pm – food and drink provided – for the final push on painting and planting to complete the garden. The garden officially opens on Friday 2nd June.