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Dementia and Imagination

Exploring the impact of visual arts activities for people living with dementia.

The Dementia and Imagination project explored the impact of artist-led visual arts activities for individuals living with dementia.

About the research project

Participants attended a series of 12, one hour, weekly arts activities. The activities took place in three parts of the UK: in the North East of England (where participants lived in care homes), in Derbyshire (where participants were in hospital settings), and in North Wales (where participants lived at home and the activities took place in local cultural venues).

The project team came from diverse disciplinary backgrounds and a mixed methods approach was taken. Impact was considered in terms of wellbeing, quality of life, and social connectivity. There was also a strand of public engagement activity throughout the project.


Research findings

The Newcastle University team focused on the qualitative data. The sessions were designed to be forward-looking. Nonetheless, participants were observed to draw on personal and shared historical narratives in order to engage in the activities.

The results suggest that the activities:

  • supported the resilience of the participants
  • allowed them to express a narrative identity
  • supported (embodied) communication between participants and carers
  • had impacts on carers which could influence how the carers responded to the person with dementia in the future


Funder: Jointly funded by AHRC (Connected Communities fund) and ESRC

Duration: April 2014 to August 2017

PI and further team:

  • Prof. Andrew Newman (CI) - Media, Culture, Heritage, School of Arts and Cultures
  • Dr Anna Goulding (RA) - School of Medical Education
  • Dr Bruce Davenport (RA) - Media, Culture, Heritage, School of Arts and Cultures
  • Dr Marianne Wilde (RA) - Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Centre
  • Carlota González Miguez (RA)



  • Bangor University (project lead)
  • Goldsmiths College (University of London)
  • Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Nottingham University
  • Swansea University

Non-academic partners:

  • Age Watch
  • Alzheimer’s Society
  • Arts Council Wales
  • BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art
  • Denbighshire County Council Arts Service and the Ruthin Arts Centre
  • Derbyshire Community Health Services
  • engage Cymru
  • Equal Arts
  • National Institute for Health Research CLAHRC
  • Nottingham Contemporary
  • Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums

Further information: Visit the official website for more information, including a full list of publications and presentations.