Northbourne care home has been working with two artists on a pioneering project this summer.

Artists Claire Ford and Kate Sweeney began the first phase of their 'Moving In' residency project this August and moved their respective studios and their lives, into Anchor’s Northbourne care home in Gateshead for 5 weeks.

The project aimed to create a precedent for artists working more immersively in care settings with older people, and explore new approaches to making art in order to shift society's perception of living in care homes. The residency, which saw the artists move into care home to live, eat and sleep as well as make art, allowed them to really get to know the rhythms of Northbourne, without being restricted to any time-based limitations. 

Kate, based in Gateshead, said of their approach to the residency: 

“Being a resident in a care home has deepened my understanding of this environment and made me re-evaluate the role of the arts in care settings. I have greater empathy for the needs and issues that the residents and care staff deal with every day and have tried to develop methods of making work that include and reflect all the people who live and work at Northbourne."

Claire, based in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, said: 

“Living here means collaborating at any time, including editing films over dinner and group blogging in front of the tv. All aspects of the work touch upon notions of identity and how people maintain their individuality after moving into a care home. The work has also looks at how the wider community connects with Northbourne." 

The staff at Northbourne have also been involved in this developing conversation about what it could be like to live with artists in care homes. 

Northbourne Activity Co-ordinator Amy Rushworth  said of the project:

"Meaningful activities in care home settings are essential. It is important for an individual to continue with their hobbies and interests when they come in to the care setting, as well as also trying some new experiences. We were overjoyed that Anchor's Legacy Fund, alongside the Arts Council and Equal Arts have been able to fund and support this project.

“Claire and Kate have brought new experiences for our residents to try out - yarn bombing and handcasting to name just a few. Their energy has been infectious. Activities within Northbourne are both planned and spontaneous and are meaningful to our residents, promoting both their health and mental wellbeing.”

To find out more about the project you can read the project blog. It includes reflection, documentation and posts about what the artists have been working on.

[Photographs courtesy of the artists]

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