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.