Associate Artist 2020 - 2021 Glynn Vivian Art Gallery Swansea Wales UK Researching accessibility, diversity & equality in the Arts
Age & Legacy 2018 Short 10:52 mins Collaboration with Rich Thair Arts Council of Wales - Research & Development Grant
Exploring Dementia Through Sight & Sound
Age & Legacy is an arts installation that is influenced by my late Nan, Rita Hyde who in 2014 passed away with dementia. My Nan lived with dementia for over 8 years. At the time I remember trying to come to terms and understand my Nan’s condition. It was a struggle as it seemed her identity was slowly fading away. My relationship with my Nan slowly changed from her being my protective Grandmother tucking me up in bed as a child to now me being the carer and making sure she was comfortable in her bed, when I would visit her at the nursing home.
I remember when I first went into the nursing home seeing a booklet called ‘Getting to know you’ placed on her bedside table waiting for us to complete. This was placed there with the best of intentions but I found this very upsetting as to condense who my Nan was into a few bits of paper was never going to convey the loving Grandmother, wife, sister, daughter, Aunty and friend she was.
My intention for the project is about capturing legacy and the act of sharing personal stories and experiences. My starting point was William Shakespeare’s ‘All the world’s a stage’ 1564-1616.
Over the past year I photographed the Victorian theatre at The Pontardawe Arts Centre which was opened by the world renowned Soprano singer Madame Adelina Patti in 1909. Photographing the dressing rooms, wings, stage and auditorium. Capturing the marks worn into the stage floor and the traces of personal belongings left behind in the dressing rooms being a place of thought, anticipation and transformation. And the stage being the act of sharing stories and shared experiences.
The male and female protagonists in the photograph are to conjure up the characters that once lived amongst us. Madame Adelina Patti’s appearance is a nod to the heights of fame and her faded legacy. The male character is played by my brother Ryan Evans who represents my Great Grandfather Charles Smith who passed away from dementia in the 1970’s. The female character is actor Michelle McTernan whose profession is about the art of playing fictional and real life roles. However these characters are open to interpretation allowing the viewer to connect and create their own narratives.
I hope Age & Legacy will create a dialogue about dementia from a creative perspective and that with support and awareness of dementia we are able to create communities that are are dementia friendly.