Public Engagement
Camden Memory Service

person holding photograph

Arts 4 Dementia and the NHS’s Camden Memory Service commissioned us to run three screen printing workshops at their practice on Camden Mews, with a view to creating permanent pieces of work for the Services for Ageing and Mental Health Centre on Brewery Road in Camden.

cutting a shape out of paper
A participant making a stencil from specialist paper

Our three-week programme followed an initial workshop run by Ian Sherriff, which gathered suggestions from people living with dementia, who attend the NHS practice on Camden Mews, of popular landmarks in the Camden and Islington area. Engage Here then gathered imagery of these landmarks and brought them to the first week of our printmaking workshops. We initially used the images as a prompt for discussion and sharing of memories, before each picking a landmark to create a stencil our of specialist paper called Tyvek. We were keen to make sure every participant got a chance to screen print in the first week, so the stencils were straight-forward and directly inspired by shapes from the landmarks themselves.

Man about to screen print
David familiarising himself with the screen printing bed

Almost none of the participants had ever screen printed before, so we set the bed up in a place where everyone could watch even if they were't printing themselves. Each person had a partner to help them, so there was a real sense of teamwork. Though we were only printing one colour to start with, the participants were introduced to the radical screen printer Sister Corita Kent, and this gave them a sense of how multiple colours could be used in the process.

woman screen printing
One of the participants about to pull a print

Week 2, saw more participants join us. It was a perfect opportunity for us to go through the whole process of again from start to finish, as many of the participant’s dementia had meant they had forgotten. Some participants began to be more loose with there stencils, creating imagery inspired by the landmarks rather than being directly influenced by the shapes. This involved zooming right into the images to make the stencil more abstract or surreal. We also spoke a lot more about the areas of Islington and Camden, discussing people’s favourite pubs and parks near to them. Everyone particularly loved the monument to Dick Whittington’s cat in Archway.

orange print of a clocktower
George’s single colour print of the clocktower in Caledonian Park

It’s nice to be reminded of the past, but also get out and learn a new skill.” Eric

The final week, saw the group become far more confident with the process, despite their dementia. Participants were becoming more advanced with colour, and utilising different methods to block out sections of their screens, allowing previous layers to show. We brought many more screens with us, to give participants the opportunity to be experimental. We concluded with spoking about where the prints would exist and imagined how the white walls would be transformed into a room of expressive colour.

the words Camden Passage printed in expessive typography
A typographic response to Camden Passage

The exhibition will be on permanent display at the Services for Ageing and Mental Health Centre on Brewery Road from the 20th of October.

a group of people cutting out stencils