Memory Loss and Scenic Experience: An Arts Based Investigation

Bennett, Jill, Froggett, Lynn orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-8406-6231, Kenning, Gail, Manley, Julian Y orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-2548-8033 and Muller, Lizzie (2019) Memory Loss and Scenic Experience: An Arts Based Investigation. Forum: Qualitative Social Research Sozialforschung, 20 (1). p. 13. ISSN 1438-5627

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In our research, two groups of people living with memory loss due to mid-stage dementia were invited to view a film installation, centred on the experience of a woman with a brain lesion and dense amnesia. The groups, recruited from day-care and support settings, were living at home. One included informal care-givers. After the film, each participated in a visual matrix: A group-based method of eliciting image-led and affective associations in response to aesthetic stimuli to support shared and distributed memory. We hypothesised that the associative process of the visual matrix would support meaningful engagement for participants with dementia.

We discuss the participation and self-reflection facilitated through the method in terms of social scaffolding, attending to differences between the groups, presence of care-givers and visual matrix setting. We consider the conditions in which scenic experience, replete with embodied memory traces is expressed in a visual matrix by people with impaired recall, enabling them to engage with a complex artwork. This provides insight into how the embodied, subjective experience of people living with memory loss can be communicated. Implications for enrichment programmes, social activities and communication in group care settings are considered.

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