Cash boost for group bringing joy of art to dementia sufferers

Mike Mitchell, Robert Sample, Judy Parkinson, Patrick Altes, Keith Rodway
Mike Mitchell, Robert Sample, Judy Parkinson, Patrick Altes, Keith Rodway

A Hastings group which uses art to help people with dementia has received almost £50,000 boost to help it continue its valuable work.

Drawing Life brings life drawing to people suffering with dementia, and it is one of five groups in the ITV Meridian East region selected to win up to £50,000.

The decision was made by public vote and Drawing Life’s Dementia Drawing Project was one of the lucky winners.

Drawing Life was set up three years ago, funded by a small lottery grant.

Drawing Life has teamed up with the Jerwood Gallery, exhibited in Hastings, Lewes and Brighton, started developing a research project at the University of Brighton and, not least, made a positive difference to the dementia community.

This funding boost will help Drawing Life grow from a small group that holds sessions in just three care homes in Hastings, to become an established community organisation that meets the need for regular classes for more people, in more places.

Judy Parkinson, project director, said: “Many thanks to everyone who voted for us and to those who campaigned and helped in so many ways.

“Our classes involve a nearly naked model, an art teacher and a few sticks of charcoal plus some cartridge paper.

“There’s always a lovely atmosphere, and sometimes there’s laughter, sometimes song. People draw with a freedom that allows a special kind of vision and creativity.

“People living with dementia still have a relevant place in the world and we let them express themselves in new and surprising ways, and in the process try to break stigmas attached to dementia. Our classes are for carers too, giving them new things to talk about with those who may have lost the art of conversation.”

Julia Mortimer, who draws with her mum, said: “It should be heartbreaking, but this strange role reversal is joyous, it gives me an opportunity to share mother and daughter activity in a way we haven’t since my childhood. Dementia Drawing helps me see what she sees and gives me the chance to enter her world for an hour.”