In October 2015, I joined Creative Minds, a social enterprise set up to make art accessible to everybody, including people in care homes and residential homes for adults with learning disabilities. I am based in New Milton and deliver regular art sessions in the surrounding area including Lymington, Christchurch, Lyndhurst and Ringwood, and there are other Creative Minds artists delivering art sessions all around the country encouraging people who find it hard to access other art and craft courses by taking the sessions directly to them.
I still remember the very first Creative Minds session I delivered. One of the ladies taking part had been a very talented sculptor until she developed dementia and other age related illnesses which caused her and her family to make the very difficult decision to move her into a care home. During the art session, the lady, who was struggling to remember very simple things such as names, what day of the week it was and what colour she was using suddenly started having a conversation with me about negative spaces, different materials and techniques she had used to make her sculptures and other artists she really liked. She just seemed to come alive and I could sense that she was really enjoying having a conversation with someone else who knew a bit about art.
Another lady who had never done anything artistic before created an amazing piece of work which she was really pleased with. She also had dementia and five minutes after she had finished, she looked at her painting and said, “That’s lovey isn’t it. Who did that then?” She didn’t believe she had created something so beautiful. I remember leaving the home with a big smile on my face, knowing that I had made the right decision to leave teaching and become a creative minds artist.
Since that day I have had the pleasure to work in many other homes including Summerwood and Redcroft (Apple House homes). I still always leave with a big smile on my face. I never know what to expect, and in some of the homes for adults with learning disabilities or where the residents have dementia, events can be very unpredictable, but every session results in someone laughing, or someone creating a piece of work they are really proud of, or someone learning a new skill. I have even seen the joy in the faces of relatives when they come in and see their loved ones enjoying themselves so much. Many even have their relatives work on display in their own homes as a constant reminder of their loved one.
There is nothing better than being able to use the gifts you were given to make other people happy, to make them smile and laugh and to see the sense of achievement in their faces. Not only has becoming a Creative Minds artist given me the opportunity to do all of this, but I have also had the privilege to meet the most amazing people. All of the care home staff and the residents who take part in the art sessions provide so much inspiration with their caring attitude, their incredible stories and their willingness to try new things. I hope I have had a positive impact on other their lives because they have certainly had a positive impact on mine.
–Karen Blake (Creative Minds artist)
To find out about creative minds sessions in this area, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
To find out more about creative minds or how to book sessions in other parts of the country visit www.creativemindsan.co.uk for more information.