Visiting dementia

Before and during my exhibition ‘A Wonder World for Enid’ in the University of Leeds Clothworkers’ Hall, I am blogging about the paintings, where they came from and how they were made.


As an abstract expressionist painter, my art comes out of and responds to my emotions. The most intense emotions of the last few years were generated by my father's dementia, and by my experiences as I watched it eat away at his mind, discussed decisions about his care, sat next to him on weekly visits to the care home.

The series of paintings that I call 'A Wonder World for Enid' emerged out of multiple, complicated emotions brought into the studio. Enid was frail old lady who lived across the corridor from my dad. It is still too hard, too raw, to make art directly relating to my father's last illness. The paintings are for a re-imagined Enid, made safe through metonymy, appropriation and projection.

  Go back to your room now      acrylic on paper    25 x 35 cm    2013

 

Go back to your room now      acrylic on paper    25 x 35 cm    2013

These paintings speak to the experience of watching my father fade away. Colour and form respond to the multiple emotions of that experience. The bright shapes underneath and among the grey suggest the rich lives of people with dementia that are gradually obliterated, but remain accessible longer than we think. They reflect moments of joy and connection that brightened my visits.