Two more preview trips to the Museum and Lovely Myra

I met Myra Lamont today, who volunteers for Life Changes Trust and is a volunteer member of  NDCAN

She was in the area to support carers and I was lucky enough to spend some time with her today, when she came along to the Museum trip with Solas and stayed to have a lunch meeting with me at An Lanntair.

I learned so much from Myra, her information was invaluable and I’ll be working on one of her ideas in the immediate future.

Meanwhile, the group from Solas loved the Museum preview trip. There were ten people with dementia, 5 staff plus volunteers and myself plus Myra.

The next group came from Blar Buidhe care Centre (having heard about how much people enjoyed it last week, another group wanted to come). Margaret Anne took great pride in being able to read Gaelic and another lady was so high in her standard of Gaelic, that she was able to correct some Museum resources! It was a beautiful day, too.

Podcasts

Check out our Podcasts page – there are Gaelic language lessons there (Gaelic Without Trying series to enable carers to learn Gaelic without having to commit to lesson time) PLUS our Gaelic Culture Podcast series of beautiful songs, stories and poetry in English and Gaelic.

Please share it widely. It is intended for sharing with people in the community living with dementia, so please highlight this to anybody you know who works with, cares for, is related to or knows anybody across the islands who might enjoy them.

I will have some headphones and splitters next week for any care centres or hospitals who would like to share these with residents/patients/clients.

Wee Studio Podcast Recording

We had a massively industrious recording session today at Wee Studio – three podcasts in one session.
One is for the forthcoming memory box relating to moorland. It has a song about the shielings  by Maggie and the words read as a poem by Donald Saunders.
The next podcast is about the Herring Girls and Maggie explains the story of the song and then sings it (magically).
The final podcast is the second of our Gaelic Without Trying series, designed to support carers to learn Gaelic by absorption.
They will appear shortly for downloading.
Because of the detail about how songs were learned and remembered, this will be a useful resource for academics researching bilingualism and oral traditions across the islands as well.

 

Hand Memory – by Jon Macleod

Hand memory pdf

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images: Net mending session at Blar Buidhe, Carding wool at Harris house, Knitting pattern, Anne Campbell (Garenin) Milking – using fuigheagan (waste wool from tweed weaving) to tie the tail out of the way …., Setting nets off Gallan Head, Ciosan.

Hand Memory

Building on earlier sessions with people living with dementia that explored traditional skills and the role of ‘hand memory’ we have created further sessions for eliciting memories as well as creating opportunities for haptic stimulation, that may link to life knowledge of work tools, craft skills and techniques such as creel and basket making, knitting, carding and spinning wool, net mending fishing and tweed weaving. To explore this in greater depth we have collaborated on a joint funding proposal with Dr.Stephanie Bunn, Senior lecturer in Anthropology (specializing in Material Culture) at St. Andrews University. This new project looks at ‘eliciting oral histories and ‘hand-memories’ as a means of co-designing supportive, inclusive and locally distinct communities for people living with dementia as well as providing research that will feed into developing new innovative design tools.

Another objective is to exchange knowledge of basketry practice in memory work with An Lanntair’s experience of placing oral traditions at the centre of our approach to local history-making and recording. We will draw on local familiarity with basketry to elicit both oral and embodied memories from community elders, who are often the only members of communities now to retain such skills. An Lanntair’s experience with orality and dementia will in turn enhance the work with other communities in the project, along with providing oral material which will enrich the collection at Lewis’s Museum nan Eilean. 

Dr.Bunn’s previous project ‘Woven Communities’ looked at basketry, memory, and embodied thinking and grew out of an initiative and collaboration between a group of Scottish basketmakers, the Scottish Basketmakers Circle whose aim was to collect together and document all the diverse research conducted about Scottish vernacular basketry, learning skills from regional practitioners, researching in their local communities, surveying basket-related plant ecology and visiting museum collections and archives;

“There is a wealth of information which comes forth when people see you making baskets – often they are eager to correct you just to start with and let you know you are doing something wrong. Then many memories come flooding back.”- Liz Balfour, (Woven Communities Project Partner).

One focus of the new project will look at re-discovering local skills and knowledge by hosting practical reminiscence events and hand memory exercises. We will follow a basket making process all the way through, from gathering weaving materials, processing them and then weaving a specific vessel such as a ‘Ciosan’. This was ‘a coiled basket made from sea-bent (marram grass), or sometimes straw. The coils are stitched together using twine made from rush, marram, even split willow or bramble, or bought twine’. Its function was to hold oat or barley meal.

Podcast Recording today

Maggie and I had fun recording our first ‘Gaelic without trying’ podcast today at the Wee Studio.

The idea behind this is to offer a podcast to care centres, so that staff may learn Gaelic without having to commit time to lessons.

The thought is to play this on a loop in the toilet, much like Frankies & Benny’s in England, where they teach Italian in the bathrooms, or Heston Blumenthal’s motivational speeches in bathrooms. It’s something that can be absorbed in little chunks across the day. And of course it is vital in this culture for carers to understand basic Gaelic in order to be able to understand people who revert to Gaelic through dementia.

It will also work as little bite-sized lessons to listen to in the car, for example.

We were also thinking about offering short little podcasts of songs, stories and interviews for people living with dementia, in Gaelic. This will be the next step, along with a couple more ‘Gaelic without trying’ lessons.

These will be freely available to anyone who wants them.

Download podcast here

Nicolson Institute Gaelic Choir

The Nicolson Institute Gaelic Choir have kindly rescheduled their event that we had to postpone due to high winds a few weeks ago.

They are now very helpfully undertaking a mini tour of Stornoway care centres in the New Year, so that people don’t have to travel in winter weather and so that everyone has something to look forward to in the New Year. How thoughtful and much appreciated!

We will be enjoying songs from the National Mod.

 

Little library session last night

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The team enjoyed an intimate library cafe session last night where we presented the project and shared the words of the people we have been working with. Ian Stephen shared his personal experience of working on the project and what it has meant to him as well as relatives of participants, through spontaneous feedback in the local shops. He spoke about the poetry, films and workshops and told several stories and shared his own poetry and the work of Frank Thompson. Ian explained that one relative told him that a session he was involved with immensely improved the quality of what turned out to be his father’s very last week. And that a poetry reading brought a much loved and missed relative back to life for a precious time.

Maggie told some wonderful collected stories in Gaelic and English and Jon offered a projection slideshow of images from the project.

We shared cyanotype images from Mhairi Law’s workshop, word portraits and collages and these were very well received.

The daughter of one of our participants read her mother’s word collage poems and shared with the group that her daughter was so excited about them that she shared them on Facebook with all of the family.

Exhibition, coffee & intergenerational Gaelic chat

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On Tuesday, we supported a group from Blar Buidhe Care Centre to visit the Veering Westerly exhibition at An Lanntair and held a Gaelic chat tea party with Maggie, also supporting An Lanntair staff to practice their Gaelic.