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Simon Starling exhibition inspires residents

Nottingham Contemporary has now completed the second phase of their commission as part of the Imagine programme. They set out to support care homes in overcoming the barriers that can prevent older people from accessing excellent art. Associate artists Gill Brent and Jo Dacombe have been working alongside activity co-ordinators from The Abbeyfield Society and Eastgate Care.

Activity  co-ordinators have been given the opportunity to learn new skills and approaches that will enable them to independently deliver excellent and sustainable arts provision in their respective care homes.

The aims of the project were to:

  • Broaden ideas about art and art galleries to the participants
  • Give an opportunity to older people to engage and communicate with the wider community
  • Inform future visits and challenge perceptions of how older people respond
  • Investigate approaches of training activity co-ordinators (ACs) and learn the value of training and research by the artists and ACs in partnership
  • Work with residents in the gallery setting

Two trips were organised in May and June respectively for residents to visit the Simon Starling exhibition; the Turner Prize winner who studied at Nottingham Trent University. This exhibition presents the largest ever exhibition in the UK of his artwork. Industry is a theme running through the selection. Some of the works allude to different eras of manufacturing, from the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, to the high-tech sector, and China’s dominance today.

Successes reported by Nottingham Contemporary

  • The residents were very interested and engaged with the exhibition and the ideas behind it. They had lots of questions and made personal connections, which they were able to express, despite many not working in the textiles industry themselves
  • The residents, after returning to their care homes, talked in detail about the trip. This in turn has led to other residents, who came on the trip, talking about it the next day within their care settings
  • The focus participants put into the activity was very positive and residents really concentrated on understanding the art work
  • The AC’s utilised ideas given at the training within their everyday activities within their care settings
  • The residents loved being out and about and having lunch outside of the care home
  • Intellectual engagement gave purpose and structure to a social day out, which was an advantage of coming to Nottingham Contemporary

The visits for residents were very successful and were well supported on the day. Residents reported they had really enjoyed the visits and the activity co-ordinators confidence with each visit is growing in order to support and arrange more visits out of the care setting – this is very positive!