The ERA – Encouraging Relationships with Art project – was supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Arts & Older People Programme. Through this project, we made a specific and deliberate commitment to develop programmes with older people that created meaningful, inclusive experiences with art. The ERA project took place in Void Gallery and in several offsite locations from March – June 2016.
There were several strands to the ERA project, which was concentrated on the work of Anne Wenzel in the Day Breaks, Night Falls exhibition, curated by Mhairi Sutherland.
The learning team at Void welcomed hundreds of people into the gallery for guided tours and workshops; they received training on how to become a dementia-friendly gallery and began a subsequent programme of engagement with adults who live with dementia. They also focused on the up-skilling of local artists and the creation of a working group made up of community stakeholders.
The project delivered over 25 visual art workshops, joining five local artists with active age groups and Day Care Centres across the Derry City and Strabane District Council areas, including Owen Mor Care Centre, Seven Oaks Care Centre, The Gasyard Mens Shed, Age Concern Causeway, and Ballylaw women’s group who visited the gallery and took part in a guided tour of Anne Wenzel’s exhibition. They then spent time with artist facilitators as they decided what kind of work they would like to make in response and they agreed upon a schedule of sessions which would happen within their centres. Each artist then delivered workshops where they created mixed media artworks inspired by the Anne Wenzel exhibition.
A group exhibition of the work created was shown on Monday 20 June, from 12.30- 3pm.
Void Gallery is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Derry City and Strabane District Council.