SDHI hosted a research round table on Monday, 16th February with visitors, Professor Cathy Treadaway,at the Centre for Applied Research in Inclusive Arts and Design at Cardiff Metropolitan University and Dr Gail Kenning, artist, researcher and educator at the Centre for Research in Learning and Change at the University of Technology in Sydney and visiting researcher to the University of Technology in Eindhoven.
Cathy and Gail spoke about a newly AHRC funded research project that focuses on the use of craft and digital media with people with advanced stages of dementia to enhance wellbeing and social connectivity. Their collaborative work is not only supported by academics but also by Alzheimer’s Society and Dementia Positives charities, and involves a number of professionals in health, social care, technology as well as people with dementia at its heart. The discussion revolved around a number of key themes, the distinction between recreational use of art and craft (social model) and therapeutic intent (medical model); the perceived benefits of craft and art engagement in terms of social, cognitive and emotional connectedness, the distinction between the process of art and craft engagement and its product (its object), the role of aesthetics in addition to function, and the critical difference between a focus on effectiveness and meaningfulness. ‘Craft making’ as a communicative process was also viewed in terms of its innovative potential as a research method. In the discussion participated several SDHI affiliated researchers with arts therapy, psychology and public health backgrounds. The round table was further testimony of the growing activities between SDHI and the University of Dundee and the University of Technology, Sydney in the area of health and wellbeing.