I’m enjoying playing with ideas from the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Gilbert Collection, which includes many intricately decorated snuffboxes such as those depicted here. Butterflies, dragonflies and flowers decorate one snuffbox in the collection; a vibrant coat of arms covers another.

The Gilberts, husband and wife, collected objects they loved from all over the world with the intention that they should be enjoyed by all, including people with dementia.

Westminster Arts Resonate team, in partnership with the Victoria and Albert Museum, have invited me to share this collection with people living in a specialist care home in Hammersmith. Many of these people are bed-bound and so I’ve been looking at ways to encourage them to respond to the collection, while at the same time making connections to their own lives and stories.

We’ve handled objects, looked at photographs and are gradually getting to know each other in the process. We’re starting to experiment with different art forms and techniques. How can we connect a snuffbox or a decorative table with a song, a sketch or a gesture from someone’s own history?

IMG_2296H has skill and interest in card games, and is intrigued by the shapes and colours in the photos of the Gilbert Collection objects. I’ve been told he refuses to participate in any art activities. We talk about making and decorating a playing card box. But where to start with someone who is hesitant about mark-making?

We look at the playing cards first and discuss how we can incorporate them into the design. Then, taking away some of the anxiety around getting started by drawing around a card template of a dragonfly, we find that the overlapping outlines magically begin to form shapes reminiscent of the design on the Gilbert Collection’s snuffbox.

IMG_2301It’s an interesting start. I’m looking forward to seeing what emerges over the next few weeks…

Lucy Warren from Westminster Arts is working with me on this project and took most of the photos in this post. You can find her guest blog here.

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