Making Memories (2012-15)

  • mini-teapots

Making Memories is a book of creative ‘recipes’ for artwork and poetry stimulated by reminiscence. All of the ideas were tried out by groups of older participants in Oldham reacting to objects and ideas we brought along. The groups often included people with dementia and people with significant physical challenges, like mobility issues, or visual impairment. The idea was to share creative ideas, stimulate reminiscence and turn it into the form of poems and artwork. Why do this? Making something from your experience can give it a clearer shape, give it greater meaning.



wedding ring

white wedding pink flowers / very long time ago

a garter, a rose / married a long time

a helluva long time / ago

a bit of a scent / the faint scent of cloves

we choose to forget / a wedding ring

a buttonhole the men wore / the bride a bouquet

a long white dress / at All Saints

he a carnation / and a party after.

Group poem. 13th February 2013


In the bustle of a care home there isn’t always time come up with new ideas for activities, especially activities that are unique. This little book contains two years-worth of creative experiments. Each of the recipes are custom made to last for an enjoyable half hour or hour. Some of them are even quicker, ideas for a 10 minute discussion. They’re a challenge, but an enjoyable challenge.

“Objects stimulate memory – we’ve seen this time and again. Lois passed a rolling pin around a group and people were immediately talking about the kitchens of their childhood. I watched Glenys hand a cotton shuttle from a mill round a group of older people with dementia – and the fascination for that object was electric. It seemed to Lois and I that something could be done with that energy, generated by significant objects.” Philip

Creative activities can bring focus to objects, helping to find a shape for the emotions and recollections that the objects bring. They can also help you go deeper. If you try to really search for the words that describe, say, how much an old teddy bear meant to you when you were a kid, you’ll find that the object stops being just an object, it becomes a doorway back into the past.


“People can be shut off by embarrassment. There’s a stigma with mental health and society needs to address that. But I find activities like this therapeutic. People feel comfortable, not threatened, at ease with others. It engenders a feeling of confidence and fellowship.”

Participant in Springboard, dementia group, Oldham

The Making Memories project was funded by the Barings Foundation and in a partnership with Gallery Oldham.
Participants 394 people, aged between 65-100
More information
Blog full of ideas for workshops, evaluations… arthur-and-martha
On-line portfolio and arthur-and-martha

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