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03/05/2023

Mayor Opens Art Exhibition Challenging Misconceptions About Dementia Head On

The Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Alderman Stephen Ross, has officially opened Dementia NI’s unique art exhibition which is being held at Mossley Mill, Newtownabbey, throughout May and aims to challenge the stigma of dementia.  

Open daily from 2-31 May, Real Lives: The Art Of Living With Dementia will showcase thought-provoking photography and patchwork quilts. It is hosted by Dementia NI, Northern Ireland’s leading charity for people in the early to middle stages of dementia, and features 45 pieces created by Dementia NI members, all of whom live with a diagnosis of dementia.

There are over 20,000 people living with dementia across Northern Ireland and this number is projected to rise to 60,000 by 2050, due in part to our ageing population. Years of stigma and misunderstanding have led to common misconceptions about what it means to live with dementia and what we can do to help improve the quality of life of those with the condition.

Dementia NI’s exhibition sets out to challenge these misconceptions, transforming how people view the condition and starting conversations through the medium of art. It shares a message of hope that many people with dementia are still able to enjoy life in the same way as before their diagnosis and live well with dementia.

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The exhibition features patchwork quilts created during an online project organised by Dementia NI and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, to help local people with dementia stay active during lockdown. Working with Arts Council art tutors, Dementia NI members were encouraged to make their own heirloom quilts which tell the story of their lives.

It includes a quilt by Dementia NI member Yvonne Thompson, who lives in Newtownabbey. Yvonne’s vibrant quilt draws on her working days as a District Nursing Sister and depicts happy times with her family at their caravan in Castlerock.

“I really enjoyed working on this arts project,” says Yvonne. “My quilt shows the family caravan in Castlerock which has an important place in my heart. My family love to spend time there and it's where I holidayed with my parents as a child. I would love people to come away from this exhibition feeling that people with dementia can keep achieving things and learning new skills. I hope it encourages people to start conversations about dementia and ask questions about the condition. As this exhibition shows, being diagnosed does not mean your life is over, you can live well with dementia and continue to reach your full potential.”

Mayor at the Opening of the Dementia NI Art Exhibition

Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Alderman Stephen Ross, said: “There are many misconceptions about dementia but this wonderful exhibition challenges that and shows you can continue to learn new skills with the condition. Dementia NI are doing a wonderful job of empowering local people to come to terms with their diagnosis and live well through their local Empowerment Groups. Dementia NI members are an inspiration and I thank them for the work they are doing to bring about positive change in the local community. Helping people with dementia to challenge stigma and change the face of dementia in Northern Ireland is truly inspirational and I wish Dementia NI every success.”

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Conor Lawell, Empowerment Lead for the North and East at Dementia NI, added, “Stigma can mean people with dementia are avoided or mistreated which is a huge barrier to living well with the condition. To challenge this stigma, we are sharing art works by our members, all of whom live with dementia, to encourage people to have a better understanding of dementia and show that you can live positively and achieve things with the condition. As a member of the local community of Antrim and Newtownabbey I am very proud to be hosting the event on behalf of Dementia NI at Mossley Mill.”

The exhibition is open daily, admission free, to the general public 10am-4pm, from Tuesday 2 May to Wednesday 31 May, 10am-2pm Saturday, closed Sundays and bank holidays, at Mossley Mill, Newtownabbey, BT36 5QA.

Dementia NI’s Empowerment Groups meet regularly across Northern Ireland. They are free of charge. Those who have received a diagnosis and are in the early to middle stages of dementia may like to attend. For more info call 028 9693 1555 or email info@dementiani.org

Dementia NI Exhibition further information:

Email jane@dementiani.org or call 07966 881 422.