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Regional Arts Development Central West NSW
A pilot art and dementia program for Forbes. Arts OutWest developed a partnership with JRV, designing and delivering pilot arts-based programs focused on dementia care.

A pilot art and dementia program for Forbes. Arts OutWest developed a partnership with JRV, designing and delivering pilot arts-based programs focused on dementia care.

Looking at art

Aged care residents at Jemalong Residential Village (JRV) participated in a program looking at, talking about and making art.

The weekly workshops lead residents in discussion about art works followed by practical art experiences linked to those works. A selection of the art produced by residents will then be framed and exhibited at JRV.

The program aimed to provide social inclusion and intellectual stimulation which in turn acts to promote wellbeing. Residents with and without dementia took part.

“Looking at and talking about works of art enables people living with dementia to connect with the world in enriching and life-enhancing ways,” Arts OutWest arts and health coordinator Christine McMillan said.


Loan of Bathurst Regional Art Gallery works

A series of art works were loaned to JRV from the collection of Bathurst Regional Art Gallery (BRAG) for the program.

The Sensory Room at JRV was be set up as a small art gallery where the works from BRAG will be available for residents to visit accompanied by staff.

“We’re privileged to have these high quality art works on loan to us from BRAG,” Ms McMillan said. “These works don’t usually leave the gallery.”

The artworks were especially chosen to facilitate discussion between care givers and people with dementia. In gentle conversations they compared and contrasted visual features in the artworks and created links with the everyday through images that evoke storytelling.

A selection of the art produced by residents was framed and exhibited at JRV.

Additional professional development for artists and volunteers was run by Arts OutWest. These professional development sessions will build on the training that was presented by the National Gallery of Australia.

“After the workshop with the National Gallery, staff at JRV are very excited, they feel that residents will benefit immensely from the arts in dementia program. The aim of the program is to support creativity, in a safe and welcoming environment. We hope the program will also foster relationships between residents and provide them with a meaningful occupation, regardless of past experiences with art,” said Krystyna Anderson, Occupational Therapist from JRV.

The pilot program was a partnership between Jemalong Residential Village, Arts OutWest and the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery.

BRAG and Arts OutWest conducted a similar pilot program, working out of Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, in 2012. That project won a Museums & Galleries NSW IMAGiNE Award and the Arts and Health Australia International Award for ‘Arts and Health in Regional and Rural Australia’.

This program is based on one developed by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York in 2006. This MoMA program was later taken up by the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) in 2007 through its Art and Alzheimers Program.

Image: artist Ro Burns (centre) with JRV residents Robyn and Margaret, create artworks inspired by pieces from the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery collection (in background). Photo: Arts OutWest


Jemalong Sculpture Garden

An indoor sculpture garden was produced by professional artists working with residents and staff at the Jemalong Residential Village, Dementia Unit in Forbes.

Over the month of January 2017 artists, artists Damian Castaldi and Solange Kershaw worked at the Jemalong Residential Village to develop the work, which they then produced in their home studio in Kandos, NSW.

This is their report on the project. See more, including videos and slide shows at their website.

The artists had meetings and workshops with residents and were advised and helped by staff members Krystyna Anderson, Janet Hannon, Merryl Morris, Gwen Barnard, Dean Martyn and Christine McMillan, the Arts OutWest Arts and Health Coordinator.

The residents had previously made and exhibited artworks with Christine McMillan and Ro Burns. As part of that process the artists were able to work with the subject matter, themes and content inspired by this exhibition of work.

These ideas included working with the residents’ early memories of rural upbringing, life on the farm or in town, travelling to and from school by foot, horse or pushbike, living with animals and dancing and singing in their local dance halls.

The four pieces created for this project took the form of cylindrical, upright bollards, three of which house mechanical movement and sound.


Two sets of wire and pencil drawn clothes hanging above fans on a wire clothesline inspired by a drawing made by the resident, Lilian.


And a small clay porcupine rotating on a circular turnstile, the clay model made by the resident Robyn.


The animal’s head was inspired by a clay sculpture made by the resident, Jim.


The music that accompanies the sculptures was chosen from the residents early memories of dancing to Frank Bourke & The White Rose Orchestra playing in their local dance halls in and around Forbes and Parkes. A selection of tracks from the album “Old Time Songs Everybody Knows” has been selected to play in sequence whenever the porcupine sculpture is triggered. The interactive movement and sound of the artworks are triggered by close range passive infra red sensors. Moving within 2 to 3 meters of them will trigger their sound and movement.

“The artists would like to thank everyone for working with them on this project. They hope that their artwork brings some joy and music to the daily life of the residents and staff in this village. They would also like to give a special thanks to Catholic Healthcare’s Jemalong Residential Village, The Jemalong Residential Village Fundraising Group, Christine McMillan and Arts OutWest for their support and funding for this project.”

Images & video © The Last Bureau 2017. All music © Frank Bourke & the White Rose Orchestra.

Sharing arts’ role in dementia and palliative care

Arts OutWest’s arts and health coordinator Christine McMillan presented talks about the JRV Forbes project at Dementia and Palliative Care information sessions in Bathurst, Parkes, Orange, Dubbo and Blacktown June 2017 .

The Dementia and Palliative Care ‘Getting it Together’ sessions provide insights into the management of “Dementia as a Palliative Illness” presented by PEPA (Program of Excellence in the Palliative Approach) in conjunction with Western NSW LHD Palliative Care Service.

A pilot art and dementia program for Forbes. Arts OutWest developed a partnership with JRV, designing and delivering pilot arts-based programs focused on dementia care.

Location: Forbes

When: 2017

Funded by: PEPA, Jemalong Residential Village (JRV)

Delivered by: arts and health coordinator Christine McMillan with artist Ro Burns and staff at JRV

Indoor Sculpture Garden artists: Damian Castaldi and Solange Kershaw

Thanks also to: Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, National Gallery of Australia.

Image credits for gallery: Jay Lee Zagrovic.