'My Eyes' photography project
Take a look at these new photos taken all over Bristol. Where are you? What’s going on? Where are ‘they’ going? What does that feel like? What does that sound like?
Colin Moody, parent of Year 6 pupil Max, explores the use of photographs as conversation starters for life story work in care settings for elders living with memory loss, dementia or reduced mobility. He believes new 'here and now' images that represent their living spaces (past and present), hobbies and interests could be a catalyst for more engagement for and with the elders of Bristol.
These photographs explore the reality of where elders live, have lived and the photos are deliberately 'open' in their nature to stimulate minds during group activities or 121's. They are taken in often familiar locations with unusual things occurring or the other way round.
There are three sets of images used which are presented in hand held form and on big TV screens.
1. Cognitively Able Groups. Using themes relating to Bristol. They often have historical elements but are really about the flow of life, movement and people. We might look at a flock of birds but if you explore the image in a certain way you can get people thinking about social spaces they ‘flocked’ to in the past.
Take the example of the photo of people kicking up water - this often leads to requests to enjoy Gene Kelly singing in the rain or memories of playing in groups in the harbour as children.
2. Mixed Ability Groups. The ‘Bristol Behind’ series. Multiple images work best, letting the eye find one. These photos are often of people working (early memories around work and home life are the last to leave us) or at leisure. By taking pictures from behind its easier to access the universe in the photo because there is someone 'in place' for us already. Conversation starters like "what's he doing?" or "what is she thinking?" Work well. What ever the response that is explored. This encourages groups of mixed abilities to interact with each other.
3. Living With Dementia. These are presented by hand on blocks which are light and can be easily handled. If they react more to the colour red, want to enjoy the textural elements while holding it upside down, or see the sky as sea, that is all explored - These images were photographed to encourage these responses. Still, Bristol is a common setting, helping us find threads even when communication appears to be difficult or one way.
Mixing up the sets and using them in mixed ability groups provides a marvellous collaborative activity. It helps build a community response around individual images.
Some audio recording and radio programmes have been made using responses to these images which Colin uses to enhance some of the discussions and interactions.
Colin avoids ‘Now And Then' comparative photos, readily available on the Internet, as there is little left to work out.
By letting people decide where these images take them we can all enjoy that journey, feel invited in and not just act as a voyeur.
Please take a look at these pictures. Write down what you think is happening, tell me about the people in the photographs.
For more information on My Eyes photographic project call Colin on 07957 324351 or visit www.colinmoody.net
Gill Roberts, Regional Manager for Alive! Activities.
"People may not always connect with memories of their past but they can respond on an emotional level that enables them to reconnect with who they are"
Colin Moody has been working for the Alive charity here in Bristol for several years, bringing iPads and technology into care homes to improve quality of life and training in the use of new technology in the care setting.
His exposure to life story work has given him a keen eye for images that tell a story.
He presents for BCFM 93.2fm, Bristols community radio station and Made In Bristol TV. He's a presenter for numerous chairities and corporate events companies and his photography is used in various journals, newspapers, online websites, for blogs at festivals and on the wall at local venues.
He is always on the look out for more culturally stimulating projects centred around themes of belonging, exploring and social spaces.
For more information: email@example.com / 07957 324 351, or to book a Guided Reminiscence session using these and other images call Alive on 0117 377 4756.