Sue Northrop from Dementia Friendly East Lothian, together with Lorna Bunney, who leads the Carer Support Group in Dunbar, invited us to lead a Creativity Day at Cockenzie House last week.
What a brilliant day! In the morning, I went along and set up the room with several activites based on current and past An Lanntair exhibitions and festivals. Cyanotype printing from Mhairi Law’s work, wax and watercolour from Mairi Hedderwick’s technique with images of the Hebrides, Katie Scarlett Howard’s Herring Girls modelling with images from her exhibition, flower arranging from the NHS hospital sessions, seaweed and local foraged herbs in home made pasta from the food festival and Andy Hyde set up a table with an opportunity to draw our route to the event (mine included a ferry and mountains!).
Some girls from Dunbar Grammar School, with funding from the Rotary Club and other funders, took forward our colouring book idea and created hand drawn images from local current and past images of Dunbar and have raised around £900 for Dementia Friendly Dunbar through the project! They came along and presented the project to us all to kick off the day.
We saw and heard about some beautiful and colourful art pieces relating to Art Therapy, which was really interesting as it is something quite separate from the work we do at Arora.
I presented my presentation to the group of about 20 in the morning and tried to express how these activites and this approach can be replicated anywhere by connecting with sources of funding and with organisations which hold teams and budgets for outreach work and community work.
After the presentation, I introduced the activities laid out on each table and talked about their relevant connected projects, festivals and exhibitions.
The conversations that happened during lunchbreak were so fruitful, with many opportunities to talk about specific situations in care centres and with my experience as an Activities Co-ordinator, I was able to address some of them and of course, everyone can keep in touch and we can share resources. It was also a great opportunity to talk about funding certain projects and collaborating, where to look for the local DEEP group and how to link in with cultural services such as Museums, Arts Centres, Galleries and Libraries.
Ideas came forward for validating art works with exchanged and shared exhibitions and feedback. We also had very in depth conversations about life and death, and how to positively embrace both at any age.
Lunch was in the wonderful cafe, which has a tree house feel, being at eye level with the treetops! There was also an opportunity to look around the brilliant shop and Hecla Gallery, which is named after a place in Iceland where the stone was collected for the folly in Cockenzie House Gardens.
The afternoon saw some incredible and playful creativity in equal measure. We sculpted and painted herring, arranged flowers, made seaweed and herb tagliatelle, drew our journeys, printed garden plants on to cyanotype paper, waxed and watercolured and eventially wound our way up the staircase for the most glorious afternoon tea in a Grand Piano installed tearoom with a sea view and a real fire! The tea was set out on beautiful three tier china plate stands and was incredibly beautiful and delicious. Many people stayed for the entire day but the extra people coming for the afternoon saw the entire number swell to around 50 people.
The only thing we lacked was a pianist in our midst for that glorious piano. I confess that my island lifestyle almost broke free and I almost embraced the ceilidh gathering feel and belted out a chorus of Lovely Stornoway but thankfully, I managed to stop myself.
Have a look at Sue’s bog link below, in case I missed anything! Thank you to everyone who came and contributed something, you all made it a special day and thatnks so much to Lorna for her incredible amount of hard work. Sue, you are a treasure, as ever, AND while we were together, we found out that we have been successful with our DEEP application to take forward the DEEP funded and instigated, digital eating together project. How exciting! We have no idea how we will achieve this yet but we will.
Finally, some quotes from the day.
‘This is the first time that I have picked up a brush in four years since my stroke. I was going to exhibit some old work but I am going to go back and get started on some new work for it now.’
‘I am going to the beach to forage for some seaweed now!’
“I never saw seaweed as food until today”
‘Making pasta is easy, isn’t it? One large egg and 100g OO flour, amazing!’
“I am going to have a go at making bread’
‘Can I take the flowers home?’
‘This watercolour and wax thing is easy, I like it’
‘I’m going to see if we can exhibit our work as part of another exhibition this summer’
Blog Post from Dementia Friendly East Lothian about the day