Don’t touch signs may be a familiar site in many museums but Bexhill Museum is adopting a hands-on approach with its new project.
Volunteers Louise Kenward and Colin Heminway have run six workshops for people living with dementia and their carers and with Bexhill College students.
A further six workshops are planned in February and March.
The workshops have included discussion and object-handling sessions as well as the chance to experiment with a range of art materials.
Louise Kenward says: “Engaging with objects from the museum store, the group has used charcoal, graphite, paint, plaster of Paris and clay to create their own works.
“These objects and works are now on display in an exhibition entitled Exploring Stuff – Our Lives with Objects.
“In planning the exhibition, six categories of ‘stuff’ were identified: souvenir, symbol, function, identity, story-telling and attachment. This last category relates to objects that are kept for their emotional value and connection with a special person, relationship or time.
“As these are not stories ordinarily collected with donations, this presents a different way of looking at objects.
“We are therefore inviting people to bring in their own ‘attachment’ objects to be photographed and recorded or lent for the exhibition.”
In preparing the exhibition, workshop participants were invited to contribute their thoughts and ideas and to see the work in progress.
Sally Hemmings made recordings of the process and has compiled an audio-visual account which is being screened in the Egerton Road museum’s Café Gallery.
Sally has also run two Dementia Friends sessions – one at the museum and the other at Bexhill College – as the over-arching role of the project is to support Bexhill becoming a Dementia-Friendly town.
Louise Kenward says: “Workshops are being evaluated for their effectiveness in promoting wellbeing, feeling good and functioning well, with support from Dr Paul Camic, Professor of Psychology and Public Health, Canterbury Christchurch University.
“We hope there may be potential to develop this work in the future.
“We would also like to thank Emma Harding of Bexhill College for all her hard work in helping us put the exhibition together.”
Members attended a private view on Saturday.
Professor Camic said much research had been done in recent years on the importance of museums and art galleries to personal well-being.
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