Home Service Art Project

Home Service Art Project
Newlyn Art Gallery

By: kathy Hill
Added: 29 January 2015

Art Project Sparks Care Home Conversation

A project which brings artists and creative experiences into care homes in Cornwall, saw an innovative concept become reality in January 2015.

Led by Arts for Health Cornwall in Penryn, the Home Service project is designed to enrich the lives of older people living in care homes.

This week, the project saw a specially designed artwork, in the form of a range of crockery put to use for the first time by care home residents.

Designed in collaboration with residents and staff, the cups and saucers are intended to help spark conversation and rekindle memories amongst the residents at the home, which specialises in caring for people with various forms of dementia.

Each identified by a different word, the range of cups and saucers are the work of artist Jonty Lees, who has been developing ideas for an original and practical art intervention at Crossroads Care Home in Scorrier for several months.

The cups and saucers were delivered last week and will be used at mealtimes and tea breaks, becoming an integral part of these important daily routines.

Jonty explained the concept:

“I wanted the lasting legacy of my project at Crossroads House to reflect the importance of conversation; it’s not always easy for us to find that point of departure that sparks a conversation – that helps us identify shared aspects of our individual history.”

The cups and saucers, inscribed with a single word free from any context, act as a prompt or visual trigger, which stimulates the imagination or provokes an unexpected response.

Jonty tested out words using flashcards, choosing 100 which inspired the most reaction. The cups and saucers were then specially made by British-Japanese designer Reiko Kaneko using Fine bone China.

Like other artists taking part in the project, Jonty’s work has been commissioned in collaboration with Cornwall’s top art institutions; in this case Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange.

Gallery Director James Green, who visited the care home as the cups and saucers were delivered, commented:

“This deceptively simple idea will have a real and lasting impact, promoting greater contact and engagement amongst the residents, and also with their visitors and the care home staff.”

He added:

“Jonty’s work is part of a larger conversation about the relationship between older people and the arts – about what more we can do to provide opportunities for creativity, and what we might learn from encouraging greater scope for acts of imagination in older age.”

Home Service is a three year initiative which will have a lasting impact; other strands of the project include storytelling, dance, theatre and music.

Arts partners are Hall for Cornwall and KEAP in Truro, Newlyn Art Gallery & The Exchange, Wren Music in Okehampton and Creativity Works in Bath and North East Somerset. Care organisations involved are Brunel Care in Bristol; Cornwall Care who are Cornwall wide; and Anson Care based in Redruth, Penzance and Portreath, with Falmouth University also playing a key role in the project.