Tuesday Ceilidh

Last week’s Tuesday ceilidh on Erisort Ward was full of lively discussion about Alex Boyd’s images, with much selection happening, in order to whittle down the images to a final 16. We couldn’t manage ten. Each shortlisted image has a story behind it as to why it was shortlisted. The exhibition of images to vote for goes up in Western Isles Hospital cafe, Stornoway on Monday 10th July for around a week.

Joanne from OT was much better at spelling Gaelic that I am, and she managed to spell out the word I only caught phonetically. ‘AH-REE’, meaning something like a shieling.

One gentleman was visiting a lady who came along from the ward, two ladies from Harris joined us and one gentleman from the ward. Ellie from Alzheimer Scotland supported the session with wonderful flowers and village resources and some pretty pastel coloured cakes. I brought along some gluten free cakes and biscuits and a peach pie.

We were chatting about the peats and the summer jobs at the summer grazing places on the machair. I was given some very useful guidance about cutting the peats that weekend because I had left it so late (May is traditionally peat cutting month) – the advice was to cut them thinner to allow them to dry more easily. Also, look for the stepping down of previous cuts, right down to the last piece that is on the rock, but still has the heather on it. These pieces are best to keep the range going all night and you leave the heather on. The other pieces, you remove the top heather layer and put it back after the cut to preserve the land.

ALEX NHS POSTER – this poster goes up in the Hospital Cafe, Stornoway Monday 10th July.

Gull & Robin

On Thursday 6th July, Gill Thompson and I worked with everyone on Clisham Ward, Western Isles Hospital,  who was up and out of bed and with one lady who was in her room. Gill brought along some images of gulls and robins, plus a gorgeous RSPB book to share, which one gentleman enjoyed reading the title of.

The gull was a source of fun for one gentleman, who was happy about it’s ‘yellow legs’ and the robin in flight was greatly enjoyed as well. We had a lovely chat about noisy corncrakes and the kinds of birds found in North Uist, such as the snipe.

We looked at the images and book before getting on with two more tactile bird collage pieces that we tested with a wax crayon to the print take-up. Leaving these testers on the ward to laminate, Gill took the collaged gull and robin in flight back to her studio to join the oystercatcher and perching robin from previous sessions to print with.

Gill is coming back to the ward on Thursday 13th July to show us some of the background panel work she is putting together for the Memory Garden.


The Castlebay Vinyl Image!

The people at St Brendan’s Hospital and Care Centre in Barra have been busy choosing the kind of vinyl image they they want to see on the wall at the centre. This image has been selected from Duncan Mackinnon’s archive, which we love for it’s bright, cheery, 1950’s postcard style and the fact that the centre features in the image too.

We are so excited to see what it looks like printed up as a wall vinyl and Lorraine from Hebridean Graphics is on the case with print, in collaboration with Duncan.

Kate is also working on a vinyl for Benbecula Hospital, in collaboration with people in hospital in Benbecula, for the new eating area for patients.


Digital Dining!

We are thrilled to announce that we have been successful, in collaboration with Dementia Friendly East Lothian, in our bid for DEEP funding for digital dining. Sue Northrop explains a little more in her newsletter. This idea came from Cathy, who attended the DEEP gathering in Inverness from the Western Isles too. We are all very keen to make this happen as soon as we can, as the idea came right from the DEEP gathering in Inverness and could make an immediate difference to the people who wanted it and many more people who perhaps didn’t realise it was possible.

“What on earth is Digital Dining?” you may ask. Well, we’d be right with you! But we’re determined to find a way…. It all started in Inverness at a DEEP Gathering when Agnes from Glasgow and Alison & Pat from East Lothian were chatting about how good it was to eat together. Eating can get lonely when you have dementia and what would happen if people could eat together digitally? Many people living with dementia use iPads and tablets to connect with people round the world, can we make it work for eating too?  Agnes, Alison & Pat threw us the challenge and thanks to funding from DEEP, we’re going to see what we can do!  DFEL will be teaming up with Paula Brown from Arora Dementia Friendly Community in the Western Isles and Philly Hare from Innovations in Dementia to organise a digital dining event. Interested? Get in touch! 

The Final 16!

Check out the incredible range of digital images whittled down by people in hospital to a final 16 from Alex Boyd’s DEEP funded project vinyl for Erisort Ward.
Alex Boyd’s website
DEEP website

Laminated prints will be on display at Western Isles Hospital, Stornoway’s Cafe area for a week from Monday 10th July (next week) so that people in hospital can cast a vote for their favourite image to be printed large scale for the wall of the Day Room on Erisort Ward. VOTING is by writing your favourite’s number and putting it in the box in the hospital cafe in Stornoway, by emailing paula@lanntair.com, via twitter @dfclanntair or with the hashtag #AlexBoydNHSWI .

The images all have a little label with a number on and comments about why the image was shortlisted as a favourite.

Some of the comments include

‘oh the detail in the grass!’
‘It’s very clear isn’t it’
The blues, the incredible blues!’
‘I was told such stories about the caves, I was frightened to go in them as a child’
‘It feel protective, safe’
‘Morning light is bright and hopeful, don’t you think? But the evening light is more mellow and golden, peaceful.’
‘Bran? Why was he called Bran?’
‘He looks an old dog, is he old?’
‘Is that up the Clisham?’
‘Who lived there? Who built it?’
‘Was that a gamekeeper’s hut? Or for the sheep? Or weaving?’
‘Oh, just look at that sheep! (giggle)’
‘There’s a heart on the beach! I left my heart on the beach a few times!’

And of the images that were not selected

‘I loved the peats, oh the smell and the tea.’
‘That road, does it go to the shore?’
‘I love the bog cotton but it’s quite seasonal, it won’t feel right in winter.’
‘Those snowy mountains, it makes me feel a bit cold. I want to feel warm in here.’

If you are at the hospital next week, go along and have a look at the Cafe display.
Also, Tues July 11th the ward ceilidh is on as usual and on Weds 12th July at 2pm, we are holding an Arora Film Club on Erisort Ward. Come and laugh at our original version of a brand new film – we all need a refresher of the local faces in this alcohol inspired movie!



Care & Create

Art Works, the Care Inspectorate and Luminate ran an event last week entitled Care & Create, Arts and Older People and we were invited to present our work in care centres to the gathering of people across the Arts and Care sectors from the UK and Europe.

Throughout the day, our individual and combined questions and thoughts were written down and gathered, to be addressed at the end with our pooled set of skills and experiences, which was wonderful. Many helpful discussions came forth, based on the talks from Wales, the Netherlands, the Western Isles of Scotland, England, mainland Scotland and from the curiosity and experience of the teams running the event.

I was incredibly inspired by the development of arts projects and how far they can go, based on the incredible festival work happening in the Netherlands. Have a look at the image of the programme for more information.

The inter presentation chats were fantastic too, with one gentleman pointing out that although arts projects can develop incredibly well, he finds that the process is just as important and that creating masks for Halloween in the care home can be every bit as valuable an experience if the people involved are enjoying it and taking something useful from it. And that the process matters more than the outcome. It is the same with our project and for example the dance sessions – these are not aiming for a performance of international quality but we are aiming at equally worthy goals of improved mobility, flexibility, co-ordination, confidence and that connection with ourselves that is able to bring forth expression and communication on many levels.

My own presentation was based on the work we do in care centres but also highlighting how we reach people on a personal level and how we recognise and facilitate art as a language in itself, particularly important where words fail.

I also met a member of the board for the Intergenerational Certificate online course that I am currently working on, which was briliant. And I met our lovely Kate’s best friend Morag, who works for Creative Scotland. These ladies were neighbours and school friends as children and even look spookily alike!

Thank you Edyta and the entire team for the seamless flow of the day, the brilliant gathering of incredible speakers and delegates and thank you for the honour of inviting us to participate and share our knowledge and skills.

Creativity Day for 50!

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

Robins & Gulls

Last week, Gill Thompson came to Clisham ward to continue her work on bird prints with people on the ward and visitors to make panels for the Memory garden.

This time we worked on a gull and a robin, highlighted as important birds to people on the ward.

Gill is coming back tomorrow for her final collage session before the panels are created as digital images to print for the garden.