A Bristol arts project asking volunteers to use their craft skills to inspire those living with dementia has sparked a creative buzz across the UK. The results will be on show at a special event at Bristol’s Wellspring Centre on Thursday 12th September
The Napkin Project asked people to use their embroidery skills to decorate a blank napkin, creating something beautiful to inspire people living with dementia. People from all over the UK took part, requesting more than 250 napkins in just three months. The opportunity was available to all, regardless of experience. Participants have tweeted and blogged, work colleagues have spent lunch times stitching and generations of families have shared their sewing skills. The project has got people thinking about much-loved family members with dementia.
One volunteer embroiderer said: “We have lost one family member to dementia and have another who is also suffering so we know how little things can help. I haven’t embroidered for many years and my daughters have yet to learn so it will be a lovely process for all of us.”
The Napkin Project was created as a way to communicate how important creativity can be for people living with dementia and for those who care for them. Artist Deirdre Nelson was creating artworks for Brunelcare’s new Saffron Gardens dementia care home just opened in Whitehall, Bristol, when she noticed that residents were often fascinated by the textured edges of items. They would handle and explore objects such as the napkins they used at mealtimes. A member of staff told her that one resident would join napkins together to carry her belongings around the home with her and that another used hers as a vase to hold flowers. A napkin became more than just a napkin. This is where the Napkin Project began.
To celebrate the achievements of those who have been involved an exhibition is planned for Thursday 12th September at Wellspring Bristol between 6pm – 8pm. Those who visit will be able to see a selection of the beautifully embroidered napkins, meet the arts team and take part in a free drop-in workshop if they missed the original opportunity.
The Napkin Project is a collaborative project. It is being run and managed by Willis Newson, specialist arts and health consultants based in Bristol. The artist Deirdre Nelson, whose idea it was, is providing support and inspiration. Brunelcare and the staff and residents of Saffron Gardens will receive the finished napkins. The project has been generously funded by Arts Council England and Bristol City Council.
The finished napkins will be presented to the residents of the Saffron Gardens care home at an event later this year.
If you would like to attend the exhibition, or to find out more please click here https://napkinprojectexhibition.eventbrite.co.uk/