Researching best practice art interventions to reflect the diversity of older audiences.


Art in Residence is a programme of explorative research informing and underpinning all Ben Uri Arts and Health Institute programming. By exploring different models of engagement across a diverse range of partners, the programme seeks to establish best practice for collection focused creative engagements, built on a breadth of experience, backed by evaluation and research.


Originating as 'ProVACAT' (Practising or Viewing Art Cognitive Ability Trial) the programme was established in 2014 under the guidance of Professor Michael Baum, aiming to compare the respective benefits of art discussion and art making for people living with dementia in residential care. Even at this early stage, using replica artworks for art discussions became a particularly significant model. Those who had lost memory and verbal communication abilities found their critical voice, talking as a group and disproving commonly held assumptions that people with dementia could not learn new things, remember the artwork or retain information.


In 2018, with the support of the Pauline and Harold Berman charitable Trust and under the guidance of Professor Victoria Tischler, Head of Dementia Care at the University of West London, Ben Uri partnered with leading care home Nightingale House in South London. Groups were observed and researched, resulting in two comprehensive reports and two project overview films (see below). By 2019, a replicable model had been established which was then trialled with two new partners; the Michael Flanders Resource Centre in Acton and Holborn Community Association - both long established day centres supporting a diverse community of older people and those living with dementia.


As we enter the third year and final year for Art in Residence at Nightingale House, with research overseen by Professor Michael Baum, and Professor Norman Williams of UCL, the discussion sessions and impact of the Ben Uri collection have appropriately become a keen focus. We will continue to deepen and evidence our understanding around the impact of artworks in providing engaging, high quality art interventions as we seek to provide best practice resources for use in care settings nationally.







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