Painting soothes dementia woes away
WHEN Hugo Burke picks up a brush to paint, his wife of 53 years says it has the power to take away the near-constant reminder of his dementia.
Pat Burke said the fortnightly Artistic Adventures workshops run by Alzheimer’s WA in Shenton Park were the only group that her husband was happy to attend.
“There is a mix of people who are afflicted and those who are not, so it takes away the fact that he has dementia,” Mrs Burke said.
“Everyone else here has also been affected by dementia, so I feel very close to them, like I could say anything and be completely understood.”
Enabling environment consultant Sheila Lapping said she had been working on the workshops at the Art Gallery of WA with art therapist Jackie Lewis for about six years.
“I like to sit back, watch out for something special happening and then quietly zoom in and capture it on my camera,” she said.
“There have been so many wonderfully special moments shared here between people with dementia, their carers and loved ones.
“You look around this room and you could not possibly know who has dementia, and that’s the way it should be.”
Ms Lapping said she was working on the final touches to an Artistic Adventures photo book that explained the research behind the program.
The book and a DVD will be launched alongside an art exhibition at the Alzheimer’s Disease International conference to be held at the Perth Convention Centre from April 15 to 18.
“We have more than five years of photos and stories to share,” Ms Lapping said.
“There is one lady whose husband has passed away but she became friends with everyone and still pops in every now and then.”
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Hugo and Pat Burke with art therapist Jackie Lewis at an Artistic Adventures workshop.