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Highlights from 2017

As the Imagine, arts and older people’s programme draws to a close its great to reflect on the journey and adventures travelled.


Light Night

A stunning light and sound installation at City Arts was launched to coincide with Light Night 2017 on February 10th 2017.

Artist Raphael Daden facilitated a series of arts workshops with residents from Sycamore and Millbeck Houses, Radford Care Group and The Oaks during October and November 2016.  Each resident designed and painted a geometric patterned circle on MDF board that contributed to the final installation. Each of the circular boards was lit with transitional LED lighting to create a fantastic fusion of colour. Digital artist Graham Elstone also worked with residents to create recorded sound elements of residents talking about the importance and meanings of different colours personal to them. The sound elements were then triggered by touching a series of vinyl circles linked to the Bare Conductive sound boards utilising conductive paint.

The window has been a great success with many visitors interacting with the artwork as they are walking past City Arts on a daily basis. The installation has attracted a whole range of audiences and can only be beneficial in promoting the Imagine project, and most of all, the artwork created by care home residents who are engaged in the project.

Light Night installation


Armchair Gallery

Armchair Gallery (AG) is proving to be our flagship body of work resulting from the Imagine Programme and is going from strength to strength.

With additional funding from Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire County Council work commenced with a focus on Newstead Abbey, the family home of the poet Lord Byron.

Care homes near to Newstead were selected as we hoped to engage older residents whom had some connection with the stately home or had made visits in the past. The care homes engaged were Newgate Lodge and Ashdale Park in Mansfield and The Beeches in Arnold. We were certainly not disappointed as many of the residents recalled their own memories of Newstead, with one resident at the Beeches explaining that her Uncle worked there for a long period of time as their head gardener.

Practical workshop sessions were facilitated by Sam Metz, visual artist, Andrea Haley, movement therapist, Graham Elstone digital artist and also poet in residence at Newstead Abbey Becky Cullen.

Watching film about Boatswain

Feedback from artists and activity co-ordinators

“The visual sessions and example of the lino and mono-printing cut at The Beeches was very successful”

“As a result of the workshop, residents wanted to engage in more challenging arts activities and are now prepared to try new things”

 “The multi- sensory approach using music and use of iPads in selecting music requests from the group was great and prompted some individuals to dance – one lady had been a dancer and she was really enjoying herself and having fun”

International Cultural Trade Development Forum; in Ningbo China, April 2017

 Programme Director for Wellbeing at City Arts, Kate Duncan was invited to do a presentation during the expo to around 400 participants and this was live streamed online to 20,000 viewers by Ningbo TV. Armchair Gallery was showcased in China during a four day International trade fair as part of Nottingham City Council’s involvement in showcasing the city’s digital expertise. The programme received a great deal of interest from attendees.


Lakeside ArtsLiberation of Colour

Through May 2017 Lakeside Arts facilitated a series of visual arts and print-making workshops with Sycamore House and Melbourne House as part of the Open Arts Forum collaboration with partner venues.

Associate artists Jane Stockley and Sian Watson brought their own unique styles and skills to work with participants over three sessions each to explore and gain inspiration from artworks created by Winifred Nicholson (1893 –1981). She painted prolifically throughout her life, predominately at home and also on trips to Italy, Greece and Scotland, among other places.

In May participants involved in the project were able to visit Lakeside Arts to see the Liberation of Colour exhibition showing a range of her greatest artworks.  In the afternoon residents experienced a practical workshop producing artwork in response to viewing the exhibition.

“The exhibition talk was improvised with a mix of information about the artist’s painting style, personal life and travel. To be honest I was delighted by the response. Everyone was really attentive. I am interested to know how much this is to do with the prep that Sian and Jane had done in the care homes previously. The volunteers also seemed really engaged”.

 “Some participants were quite animated and they all seemed relaxed and contented. I liked the sense that the volunteers/staff were having a good day out and I got the feeling that several would return to the gallery independently”.

Visiting the Winifred Nicholson exhibition

Celebration Events

Two events were held respectively in May and June at Millbeck and Sycamore House. Performers from Live Music Now, Bright Season and Dovetail Trio were part of the line up alongside Biant and Peter who charmed residents with the sitar and rhythmic drums.

The events also gave residents the opportunity to see their magnificent bird creations produced for Nottingham Carnival the year before.

Digital Furniture

Graham Elstone and Martin Sommerville have been commissioned to facilitate a series of workshops in care homes as part of the Imagine Digital work to co-create installations and digital, interactive furniture.

Throughout the programme we have been exploring the potential of Bare Conductive soundboards and their innovative use. When partners first discussed the vision for Imagine with The Abbeyfield Society, their Head of Dementia Innovation at the time spoke about making care homes more interactive and engaging for people living with dementia. We discussed how older people in care settings with dementia often exhibit wandering behavior and she felt that this could be improved and give someone purpose if there were interactive artworks installed along the corridors or in communal living spaces.

Taking this advice on board we discussed the possibility of creating a series of interactive digital artworks that would remain within the settings of each venue taking part. The Oaks, Radford Care Group and Sycamore care homes were involved in this project.

Participating care homes each took part in around 5 sessions designing and recording sound pieces that will be installed into tables and an installation for the wall.

Mrs Brewster Moves House

Associate Director Theresa Keogh who works for New Perspectives theatre company has been co-ordinating the Recipe of Life programme for Imagine and was involved in the writing workshops alongside Matthew Pegg, Nenagh Watson and Sean Myatt before Christmas last year. Over the last two quarters she has been working in the background to get an expert team together to start creating the final performance piece.

The team included Alison Duddle, theatre designer who has worked for renowned touring company, Horse + Bamboo; Nottingham based Matt Marks composer and musical dramatist, performers Melvyn Rawlinson, Liz Eaves and Laura Ryder and Stage Manager Nick Morris. A series of intensive rehearsals were held during August and Alison Duddle made and designed a series of clever props that would be compact and creative for shows in care settings.

The show has now been performed to audiences of 660 people; the piece was shown in 4 care homes, at the Imagine conference and in Nottingham’s Market Square in the Spiegel Tent.

“The music (live and pre-recorded) plus the inventive staging and use of props added visual impact to the action and the audience’s physical interaction with the puppet of young Mrs Brewster (when one of the actors came off the stage) added another sense to deploy (I never shook a puppet’s hand before!). So, sight, sound, touch, and emotions all came together in this piece.”


Imagine Conference

On 5th and 6th September two conference days were organised by Nottingham City Council and the Imagine Programme to showcase the work that local authorities do nationally and showcase the outcomes and achievements of the Imagine Programme. The Baring Foundation funded the local authorities day of the conference. The Imagine conference on day two featured the artists and partners that had delivered elements of the programme over the last three years.

I think I have made many contacts while being involved with the Imagine project and hope to keep these contacts so I can arrange more quality arts activities with my residents

 The performance was absolutely beautiful – it was really moving and so professional – such a well thought out piece – it has also been shown at our home and was very much enjoyed

The amazing work that Nottingham does!! Some great ideas for our future projects

A huge thank you to all the participants, partners, artists and care professionals that have been involved to make this all happen. It has been a fantastic experience and the Imagine consortium feels very privileged to be part of it! Watch this space for continuing work with older adults.