Is it harder or easier to communicate today than it was years ago?
In 2014, Fusion Arts brought together the older and younger generations across Oxfordshire in an engaging community project to explore memory and the evolution of communication through the ages, particularly how technological developments have fundamentally changed how we communicate with others.
We teamed up with Sanctuary Supported Living, Banbury and Bicester College, Cherwell District Council and North Oxfordshire Academy to deliver weekly reminiscence sessions for older residents living in and around Lavender Close in Banbury. Artist Anne-Marie Cadman worked with these residents over a period of 10 weeks to create a unique wall-hanging exploring the themes of memory and communication.
Memories are Made of This – Intergenerational arts project
Elderly participants were encouraged to share meaningful moments and events in their lives, and to reflect on how these moments were shared at the time. Anne-Marie showed participants how use a range of print and artistic processes to help encapsulate and synthesise these reflections into a large collaborative art piece.
Artist Miranda la Mutanta, meanwhile, worked with younger participants from a local college and secondary school to digitally capture the process and produce still images. These images were then rendered into the artwork, or used to create postcards or recordings to share with a wider audience.
The intergenerational project aimed to address issues of loneliness and isolation, particularly as experienced by our youngest and oldest adults, through opening new, creative channels of communication.
Young people gained the opportunity to work alongside experienced artists on a live project, and develop their skills of applied art in a social context. Using textile and print, digital art, film and video, young participants were encouraged to help shape and determine the key outputs of the project with their own ideas, as well as contribute to evaluating the process.
Through bringing together these two generations, our intergenerational approach aimed to foster new relationships and understanding between the age groups, and ultimately address issues of loneliness and isolation, particularly as experienced by our youngest and oldest adults, through opening up new and creative channels of communication.
Cllr George Reynolds, deputy leader for Cherwell District Council, said: “We have undertaken some consultations with older residents and one thing which was highlighted was a concern about isolation. This project is intended to address that issue by creating a sociable environment where people can share a cherished item and reminisce about their favourite memories. Furthermore, by working in partnership with local schools and colleges we will be able to break down the barriers of intergenerational interaction and bring the older and younger generations together in a friendly and relaxed setting.”