Written by Mary Martin, musician in Artist Team for Creative Encounters at Aspen Court
The feeling in the activity room, where our sessions take place, has changed. Initially it was anticipation and excitement mixed with uncertainty and fear of the unknown; the group had never met before. Now it is a place of safety, acceptance, familiarity, comfort, creativity and belonging, but never losing that feeling of anticipation and excitement. Nobody knows what will happen next, but we are all eager to find out. All the creative energy, endeavour and chat we have shared has led to a real sense of group identity and connection, spilling over to the lounges, residents and staff we have worked with outside the group sessions.
Co-incidentally even the activity room itself has been transformed by dedicated and hardworking staff over the eight weeks we have been visiting, into a modern, bright and more spacious place to meet, echoing the time and space we have been searching for in our artistic activity as the project develops.
Our sessions have produced a jumble of connections, disconnections and re-connections. Like a bundle of electrical wires being carefully explored; a light goes on or flickers, there is a whir or a clunk, a spark flies. Or the circuit doesn’t quite connect this time, so we try another wire.
I can wander round a wonderful gallery of images, music, moments and connections that have imprinted themselves on my mind over our eight weeks at Aspen Court:
Lots of hands: hot hands, cold hands, touching, holding, reaching, exploring, playing, drawing, dancing
Bobbing fingers adorned with spongy red noses
Lots of eyes: locked with mine, alive and alert in the moment of connection. Understanding.
A sudden smile
Fingers entwined in the bars of the wind chime
Intense concentration on controlling the beads of the rainstick
A lyre gently explored, beautiful music emerging from all around as the strings are strummed
Delicate hands on the drum leading powerful music
A walking stick stretching out to beat the djembe in perfect time
A resident standing up to sing with great intensity, wearing a red nose – powerful and vulnerable in equal measure
A bright and breezy early entrance in fuchsia dressing gown with a smart, black handbag
Dancing so soulful that even the observers are transported to a deeper place
Light, intimate dances, that entwine and unwind, gentle but powerful
Daffodils dancing, passing from hand to hand
Floating scarves, teasing and delighting
Red noses, till rolls, clay models left to dry
Long pencils quivering on paper and then finding their course
Light music, dark music, finding-its-way music, music with such intensity you can’t ignore it
Characterful hats, keen eyes lighting up underneath
One furry slipper rising off a wheelchair footrest in response to the music
Two pairs of silver slippers in a row, tapping together
Three friends sitting together, engaged, delighted, sharing a laugh
A glistening tear on a carer’s cheek.