Engaging people living with dementia and cognitive impairment through the arts

Drawing Sounds with Hackney Brocals

Men socially distanced and drawing in a pub

We met the bro’s at the U7 lounge for a pre-lockdown afternoon session of drawing to sound Arrow right

Written by Melissa Fry

A pre-lockdown afternoon session held at U7 Lounge on Regent’s Canal in Haggeston, London. The participants were members of Hackney Brocals, a group of older bro’s, aged 50+, who battle “broneliness” through participating in activities together.

Elderly man holding up his drawings
One of the bro’s, Stephen, with his sketchbook of drawings from sound

Each participant made a simple sketchbook, through folding and cutting. A series of sounds, some musical and some more abstract, were then played for the participants to react to through the medium of drawing. Each sound resulted in a different page of the sketchbook being decorated. At the end we opened up the sketchbooks, into large sheets, to reveal the collection of all of their drawings.

Drawings on a folded piece of paper
Peter’s unfolded sketchbook of sound drawings. Each page shows a different response to a different sound

Because sounds don’t have a defined visual, this process is liberating for those who don’t often draw. It allows the participants to express themselves in a truly individual way. For those experiencing dementia, music and sound can be one of most stimulating senses, evoking memories, and helping to explore new avenues through rhythm.

Detail of drawings on a folded piece of paper
Peter’s unfolded sketchbook of sound drawings. Each page shows a different response to a different sound