Interwoven Histories – A new creative project for older BME people in Leeds!

This year, Touchstone has partnered with visual arts organisation, Pavilion to deliver “Interwoven Histories” – a  project which aims to engage older people from BME communities in creative arts workshops.

Wednesday 18th October marked the first workshop of our exciting new programme, when Carol Sorhaindo introduced the Hamari Yaadain Dementia Café members to the use of saffron dyes and block painting. It is well known that saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, and it has been grown and used in India in Punjab and Kashmir for over five thousand years. When used as a dye, saffron creates an incredible, bright yellow colour, which Carol had made for the group to experiment with. Carol also introduced some oak dye, which is known to be a symbol of British identity, and this encouraged discussion of journeys of migration and the significance of cultural heritage combined with the experience of living in Britain.

The group created intricate designs using a block printing technique. We discussed experiences of migration, memories of Britain and Leeds when they first came here, and the changes we see in the world around us today. One member of the group recalled how his father had worked with block printing textiles throughout his working life, and he shared happy memories with the group. Fond memories of old interior and textile designs were shared and some members of the group had brought with them pieces of clothing or textiles, which were significant to them and they shared these with the group.

It was clear to see how much the group enjoyed the chance to be together and explore something they might not otherwise have the opportunity to do. Below are a few quotes from the group about the session:

“It’s been great because I haven’t done anything like this since I was a child.”

“I feel very relaxed…it is good for me to focus on something else for a while.”

“I have really enjoyed myself… it hasn’t been ‘good’, it’s been great!”

After the session, we sat together to share a warm lunch, where discussion of life stories and fond memories continued to flow. Feedback was positive, and it was clear to see this new experience had meant a lot to people. Extensive research shows that art and creativity is beneficial for our mental health, so in this group where many of the members have dementia and difficulty with memory, this is a chance to really appreciate the present moment, to work on something meaningful, to practice old skills or develop new ones, and a chance share memories.

We are excited for our next workshop, when Carol will be joining us again to lead a session which will further explore nature, migration and our roots. It is hoped that over time the group will grow, and we encourage elders from different cultural backgrounds to get involved!

For more information, please contact Georgina (Arts Worker – Dementia Service):

georginab@touchstonesupport.org.uk

0113 219 2727

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