A few months ago we started a mini animation club for people with dementia and their carers. We decided to use the regular walking group as inspiration and then just let things run to see what happened. We enlisted the help of Karen Hayes a librettist (she takes words and puts them into poetry, operas and much more) and she chatted and listened to members of the group as they explored some local clay landscapes as part of their weekly walks. What came back was astonishing, the poetic beauty and candid honesty that came out of snippets of conversation was very moving and a real insight into both living with, and caring for someone with dementia. Karen condensed this down and presented the group with their material – now there was no going back……….
“The great thing about animation is there really are no rules” said Richard our techie who helped run the sessions and edit the final piece. So with this in mind we prepared a massive box of craft based goodies and proceeded to bring to life the words that had been spoken a few weeks before. “I was quite skeptical at first” Teresa reflects, “because I didn’t really know how we were going to do it and I couldn’t imagine how it would look, but once we did a few shots I got really into it, each week the time just flew by”
Over several weeks we planned, experimented, cut, glued and modeled pieces for the set. It was an open forum for ideas, the wilder the better and it was fantastic to try to bring to life what someone has in their imagination. We made sure that we reviewed the footage from each week to show what we had achieved and then watched it again at the start of the following session as a recap. The group soon got into a rhythm and organised themselves taking turns to manipulate the camera and move the figures on the set, it was great to watch this industrious hive of creativity.
The result is a true testament of what can happen when you put your mind to something and is proof that anyone, at any time of their life can learn a new skill. In a sense it didn’t really matter how the film came out as it was the process that was so important to us but what has been produced is a fantastic little film that is just too good to keep to ourselves.
The icing on the cake came when Stephen asked when we’re going to do it again because he enjoyed it so much, so watch this space!