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New pioneering exhibition exploring art and dementia launches at Craven Museum & Gallery

A pioneering exhibition exploring the relationship between creativity and dementia will open at Craven Museum & Gallery this week.

artyfacts

The exhibition 'Artyfacts' will showcase creative responses to the museum's collection by people living with dementia and their carers.

The exhibition, opening on October 7, is the culmination of ten sessions working with people living with dementia run by arts and health charity Pioneer Projects.

These sessions used the museum's permanent collections including paintings, sculpture and artefacts to inspire stimulating creative sessions for people with dementia. The collections used will be on display alongside the artistic responses from people living with dementia and their carers.

At the centre of this project is the Roebuck collection which comprises 144 works of art, acquired by local art collector Clement Roebuck during the 20th century and bequeathed to the town of Skipton in 2006. It is an eclectic collection that features works of great diversity and includes outstanding examples of influential British artists.

Philippa Troutman, Creative Arts and Dementia Programme Manager at Pioneer Projects, said: "Artyfacts has been an inspiring, imaginative and well attended creative arts project designed by Pioneer Projects for people living with dementia and their carers.

"The images and objects from Craven Museum and Gallery served as inspiration for the developing creative work. At each session there was discussion, art making, storytelling, laughter and mutual support.

"The project celebrates and showcases the creative achievements of all participants at the exhibition - it is a beautiful, informative and lively show."

At each session participants discussed the artwork, passed objects around and offered ideas as to what they might be.

"These exchanges were often lively with all participants contributing stories of their own and often making perceptive observations and comments," said Philippa. "Working with the imagination allows everyone present to make a meaningful and valued contribution."

Pioneer Projects has been delivering creative, artist-led sessions for people living with dementia in Craven for the past six years, in Settle, Skipton and Bentham, and also works with four care homes in the area, training staff and delivering creative sessions.

The aim is to help participants who are often quiet and lacking in confidence, to build up their self-esteem through the sessions.

"We witness participants becoming absorbed in looking and responding and taking pleasure in their own and others contributions," said Philippa. "The carers see the person that they care for taking part, being involved and displaying enjoyment in the process. 

"They witness the person that they care for being valued and their imaginative and informative responses being taken seriously.

"Participants can relax knowing that there is support and understanding between everyone present. They feel pride in their achievements, often surpassing their expectations of themselves.

"It does enhance everyone's quality of life, including those of us involved in the facilitation of the sessions. It offers company and companionship."

During the sessions comments were gathered from the participants, which appear alongside the artworks, such as: "It makes you think about things. Sensible things"; "Before we came I would have said I couldn't do art" and "We don't look back we look forward. People are encouraged to reach a higher potential that they never thought they could. Amazing what we produce, people are finding things about themselves that they didn't know and they shouldn't be written off."

Megan Dix, Project Officer on the Museum Resilience project said: "This exhibition has been great for exploring the power art can play in health and wellbeing, something which museums and galleries are increasingly involved with."

Artyfacts will run until December 23 at Craven Museum & Gallery in Skipton Town Hall, and is open every day except Sundays 10am - 4pm, admission is free.