March 31, 2016
What changes are you noticing in the participants through the course of your workshops?
Élise: Some of the participants are opening up some more, and seem happy to see us. A few of the residents started off sitting to the side to observe us for the first few sessions, but decided to participate in our most recent session, and seemed like they had a lot to say.
Gabrielle: The residents generally seem less apprehensive, as if they are getting used to us, even if they don’t remember meeting us before. Some of the participants who are more shy or silent have spoken to us on later occasions when they felt comfortable to do so. From session to session, we are hearing more laughter.
Laura: There is definitely a warming-up, a recognition among the participants – some of them are becoming our friends – they are pleased to see us.
What issues and experiences were the participants able to voice through this artistic expression in their participation in Art Place?
Élise: The fact that we try to ask open-ended questions and that we don’t push them when they don’t give us clear answers gives the participants a chance to express themselves in whatever way they are able. Sometimes, this means that they give us one-word answers, other times it leads to a long story about an aspect of their life that the staff had never heard before. The concept of word association through objects seems to access a different part of their thought process, allowing them to express themselves in a more abstract way.
Gabrielle: I’ve seen some participants take on more of a positive tone after hearing us playing music. The music component of our work in particular seems to allow some of the participants to delve into memories they are not able to access otherwise.
Laura: We have felt some moments of real connection where a participant seemed to emerge for a moment from his or her shell to express something.
How will the memory boards that the participants created have an impact or be useful to others at Carleton Lodge? Will they be displayed, distributed or otherwise shared? How will this affect the space or the participants?
Élise: Given the responses that some of the participants have had upon seeing the memory boards at the end of the session, I hope that they will be able to look at them with their visitors and maybe spark a new conversation, in the same way that their objects allowed them to tell a story they might not have told otherwise.
Gabrielle: The memory boards are colourful, tangible roadmaps of the time we shared with the participants. I hope that they can help some residents to create connections with their memories or with other people in their lives.
Laura: I hope they will remain on display in the residence for that purpose. And perhaps inspire future activities there.