North East Connected

Saltburn’s elderly take part in national art project exploring social isolation and loneliness

CARE home residents in North Yorkshire have had their feelings, favourite flowers, and doodles turned into art works thanks to a national project exploring how the arts can be used to alleviate social isolation and loneliness.

The elderly residents from Hazelgrove Court Care Home, on Randolph Street, Saltburn-by-the-Sea, have been participating in the Culture Box project for the last two years.

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and conducted by the University of Exeter, the project was launched mid-Covid-19 pandemic to explore how the arts can improve the wellbeing of those living with dementia.

Carol Coppinger, 90, Joyce Baxtrem, 92, Betty Boyes, 92, and Dorothy Pailing, 76, all signed up to take part and participated in several remote activities and webinars from October 2020 through to 2022.

They were sent boxes containing materials and instructions, with sessions including researching and reproducing their favourite flowers as art works and producing doodles, which were then sent back to the Culture Box team.

Working artists were then commissioned to turn residents’ creations into collaborative pieces, which were sent back to the care home to put on display.

The flowers have been mounted on a window in the care home’s ground floor lounge, while the doodles became part of an artwork called “Fold” and reproduced on cloth.

At several different points throughout the project, the residents took part in webinars where they were asked about their feelings and how they were enjoying the activities. The data collected from the interviews was then turned into the peaks and troughs of a mountain range, which has been reproduced in a book called “Mountains in the Mind”.

Joyce said: “What a wonderful way for the Culture Box project to say thank you. At 92 years old I am very surprised that I have helped produce a piece of art.”

Betty said: “We loved doing all the projects involved in the Culture Box and never expected a thank you as wonderful as this.”

Carol said: “I am overwhelmed that an artist has created a piece of work based on what I sent her.”

Sharon Lewis, activities coordinator at Hazelgrove Court Care Home, said: “Our residents were delighted to receive artwork from three local artists as a thank you for taking part in the Culture Box project.

“It’s great to have these precious pieces of art to remind us of the journey we all went on with Culture Box, which gave residents and staff some wonderful activities during the pandemic lockdown.”

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