Echoes – Memory project

Magdalen Bridge

Magdalen Bridge

I’m thinking of transferring the work that I’ve been doing with the ‘Echoes Group’ – which I had started originally as a documentary project for assignment one but then thought that it would be right to continue with the Group as part of the Documentary course that I’m also undertaking here. I am rethinking the work that I want to do for Documentary which will leave the ‘Echoes Group’ available for this course.

I became involved with the Group partly due to wanting to develop a new network, partly to want to find something valuable that I could use as part of Assignment One. I wasn’t sure whether they would want me, but I am happy to say that I am nearly through the process of being awarded an Honorary Contract with the NHS which will help enormously to develop my integration into Artscape who, amongst many other projects, sponsor ‘Echoes Group’.

Fusion Arts display at Echoes Group

Fusion Arts display at Echoes Group

My project, which has been going a few weeks now centres around photography, re-photography and the development of a memoir by creating a collage that represents a specific portrait. The portrait, as I’ve explained could be a holiday portrait, a familial portrait or anything that inspires the ‘users’ to remember potentially disparate things and weave together a narrative around these images. I have suggested that they bring in old photographs or objects; I will either scan the 2D objects or photograph the 3D objects and then present them with photographs, that they can assemble together with ‘links’ that they can ‘see’ a ‘story’. I have to say that I was concerned at the beginning of the project whether they would become involved with the concept, but the last couple of weeks have been extremely positive and they are actively becoming involved. I have a lot of scanning to do and a lot of photographs to print!

The majority of the portraits are of family and/or holidays, but one or two are starting to think about possibly deeper subjects, about personal relationships, about connections between objects and people. I had thought that I would print A4 portraits, but I suspect that they will need to be A3 minimum and perhaps even A2. One of the ‘users’ used to a be a keen amateur photographer and brought his Nikon FE camera and to encourage him I gave him a roll of XP2 and asked him to make a self portrait, using memorabilia as well as any pictures – he will bring those pictures next week – something I am looking forward to.

There is though a dark cloud looming on the horizon. As part of the NHS (it’s safe in our hands!) cutbacks, there is talk that this group may be wound down. The level of clinical and supervisory staff required to run such a group – off campus – is starting to become an issue, as I am told. One possible outcome is that someone like me – a volunteer – maybe asked to provide a certain amount of cover (the clinical staffing requirement cannot be reduced for obvious reasons) and there have been a few meetings over the last few weeks to think about the future of this and other initiatives for those diagnosed with Dementia. That being said I am hopeful at least to conclude my project by the end of the summer term (Echoes runs to an educational calendar) and then see the work exhibited at the Warneford exhibition space.

My hopes therefore are that, if I decide to feature ‘Echoes’ in Gesture & Meaning that I could use these photo montage/collages as my submission for assignment two – they won’t have been done by me, but under my direction these images will have been created.