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Memories captured in dementia photography project

An arts project has been launched to help raise awareness of how objects can trigger memories in people suffering from dementia.

Objects of Reference is a collaboration between artist and #DMUlocal outreach worker Jonjo Elliott and Chris Knifton, Senior Lecturer in Dementia in DMU’s Faculty of Health and Life Sciences.

Starting in De Montfort University Leicester (DMU), it will feature photographs of staff and students holding objects which mean something personal to them, their families or loved ones.

hands and drum

It is inspired by dementia therapy, an important part of the care given to people with dementia. The nature of the condition means it is often easier for people to remember events and people from a long time ago than it is to recall recent memories – so familiar objects from the past, especially those associated with emotional times, could trigger memories.

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Jonjo said he has been spending time photographing people across the university and for many, the photo sessions have been an emotional experience.

He said: “One woman had a picture of her father on her iPhone, drinking a cup of tea. She explained that her father has dementia and often does not know who she is until she goes to make him a cup of tea.

“That act of her putting the kettle on, and making tea, he remembers she is his daughter. People want to talk about what they have brought I got to hear so many stories. It’s odd what makes us remember – it can be a sound, or a picture, or an object which triggers us.”

hands ring

Jonjo is asking any students or staff who would like to get involved to contact him on jonjo.elliott@dmu.ac.uk and he will arrange to visit them and take the photographs. So far staff in Strategic and International Partnerships, DMU Library and Marketing and Communications have had their photographs taken.

He is also expanding the project outside of DMU to include people working and living in Leicester so as many people as possible can take part - if you would like to take part, just email him.

Eventually all the images are being made into a giant collage which will be exhibited in Leicester and possibly taken on tour as part of work to raise awareness of Dementia UK.

Posted on Tuesday 12th December 2017

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