Lost in Art is a visual arts project for people living with dementia and their carers. The aim of the project is to explore the role of visual arts in addressing issues that can affect people with dementia, including social isolation, confidence, communication and quality of life.
The project was developed with the Dementia Services Development Centre at Bangor University and also formed part of their research, Dementia and Imagination – academic papers have been presented at conferences around the world and are included in the All Parliamentary Arts in Health inquiry report.
Led by Denbighshire LA and with Arts Council of Wales support and partnership with neighbouring authorities the project was rolled out to Wrexham, Flintshire and Conwy. Participants are referred by working closely with social services, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, GPs and the Alzheimer’s Society.
The project is inspired by professional art work and usually takes place in gallery settings e.g. Ruthin Craft Centre, Theatre Clwyd, Oriel Wrecsam. Partnership with art organisations means that participants get to meet and work with visiting artists in addition to the Lost in Art delivery artists. Also, our delivery artists recreate ‘galleries’ to deliver sessions in community settings.
There is an intergenerational element with schools taking part – pupils undertake Dementia Friends training and create work with the participants in some of the sessions.
Research outcomes of those taking part included: good recall of memory, expressions of preference, changes in mood and confidence, sense of achievement and looking forward to the future, feeling of control over the environment, increased sense of belonging to a community. Research outcomes for family members included: increased social support networks, change in attitude towards people with dementia and their capabilities.
“Friendly, welcoming, hard to describe I had surges of endorphin. Thoroughly enjoyable time and I came home full of ideas rather than memory problems. The group sucks you out of the abyss, lifted me out of depression.”