Saturday, 16 February 2019

. . . - - - . . .

Another week, another blog and this week has seen the death of Bruno Ganz, who I have to make passing reference too, not least because he features in my recent film/presentation in an extract from Wim Wenders, Wings of Desire. Sublime. An angel, a ghost. Here’s that opening scene from the film.

We are three weeks away from the World Healthcare Congress (Europe), and while I realise that a big thing like this is out of the financial reach of people not involved in medicine with generous conference budgets, it’s critical that we influence the thinking of that sororal/fraternity! So bringing together artists/academics who can drive home the arts/cultural agenda in the context of health - has never felt more opportune, particularly making the most of Creative Health and the diverse practice being represented. Let’s hope that we get some significant funded places for artists for the second iteration of this event in 2020. For those of you still interested in attending this years event, there are still places HERE and other events on the horizon include Live Well Make Art on the 5th March, IMPACT: Reaching Out in Rochdale on March 13th and the Culture, Health & Wellbeing Alliance conference on 21/22 Match, all of which I plan to take participate in. Of course, the elephant in the room with all these things, is the spectre of 29th March 2019. It will have an impact on all we do. In a recent interview with Chris Sharratt for FRIEZE I touch on some of the above. You can read his feature HERE. Hey ho.

Dementia on a Stick...

Last week I read another deeply insightful book written by Leo Nolan and Alison Clough and has the odd name of Dementia on a Stick! Come on - you just have to know more about a book with a name like that! Last year I had the good fortune of meeting Leo and Alison in Lancaster, where they were performing a collaborative piece of work with Sue Gilmartin, Anna Clough and Ro Morton at the Dukes Theatre. Anyone who knows me, will know I’m kind-of really uptight about audience participation, and their work under the banner of Cognitive Shift was part of a full-on immersive ‘jamboree’ as part of A Life More Ordinary Festival. Well - you can guess it - I was blown away. Yes it was participatory, but devoid of pretension, gentle and inclusive. The centrepiece of it all, was a pice of shadow play exploring the musician Leo Nolan’s experience of living with dementia.

The book is an exploration of process, experience and celebration and because the multi-talented artist Ali Clough is involved - it has real integrity. (Ali has been central to numerous arts/community/health projects and action for years. Think: Welfare State International, Pioneer Projects et al). The book presents us with an unfolding process and day-to-day uncertainties - both for Leo and for Ali and her collaborators - and it plots some very real and wonderfully considered approaches to creativity.

For me, the exploration of BINGO - and not what you imagine - is very revealing and helps the reader understand with far more depth, the texture of life with insecurities with a diagnosis of dementia, alongside the joyous liberation that the arts sometimes offer. This book is a refreshing read amongst the prescriptive approaches to arts/health doled out to many people living with dementia and is neither evangelical in its approach, or in the slightest bit deferential to bio-medical understandings of any of its process and outcomes. It’s about being human and thriving and working collectively. For details of where you can buy this book email 


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