LivingArts is a new project which re-imagines care homes as arts centres, through an eight-week residence in Aspen Court Care Home working with musicians. Each week we will be hearing from someone working on the project. This week, Clare Whistler tells us more about her thoughts and experiences…
Wednesday February 11, light of sunrise and floods glint as I take the train for a complicated journey to Aspen Court. I read my dictionary explanations of the words care and home and realise ‘I don’t care’ is as usual a way of using the word as ‘I care for you’. I think about making a care home a house of dreams. As ever on arrival all overflow with ideas, questions, ruminations:
- The pace, Lucy arrives walking fast and a resident asks her why she is walking so fast? Does everything even out in terms of pace in a care home?
- The medley of well-known songs is on in the downstairs lounge and many are singing along. Can’t fault that for exercise, singing, breathing, moving and feeling secure.
- Lucy brings a typewriter and its sounds and fractured words might be considered the underlying score for the morning. Her idea is for curating a museum of objects, objects that function, have a use, at least move – active objects.
- Listening as a creative act used in very fine ways, the quiet senses, touching, looking at, holding.
Objects brought today: rainwater, small silver bowl, poetry book, seashells, bamboo sticks, tambourines, wind chimes, wild flower book, oboe, drum, more instruments, camera and the typewriter, later an orange.
One by one our four friends arrived. Tom, Philip, Clara and Oliver, who I joined on his slow walk through the corridors and gradually convinced him to come in and sit with us. It was a soft and calm arrival. In a moment of silence the lone note of an oboe from Julian and the different worlds opened up. We all will have different moments to treasure from the time – a wind chime piece by Julian, Tim and Oliver with a swirly conducting respond from me, a ‘hello’ song that started in greeting and rose to rhythms and a joyous crescendo, a high singing from Tom, his own arpeggios, then the feisty dancing, singing and pure East End expressiveness of Clara and the drumming of Oliver, all ebbed and flowed.
I helped Philip with a wind chime, he held the two-part rhythm for a long time even if he was unable to make a sound, he was part of it. I cupped my hands around his hands and stayed there for a while, then I gave him the silver bowl filled with seashells and we swirled them into sound, the act of cupping something seemed poignant.
When it was time to end no one hurried away and all were peaceful except Clara who did not want to leave – perhaps she is still whooping with whirling sounds and I spin in tandem!
Follow the blog for regular updates from members of the team as we move towards our festival day on Wednesday 6 April. For more information about the LivingArts project visit our website.
Supported using public funding by Arts Council England.