We took our our Make Sense – Kentish Town Health Centre group to a relaxed hours viewing of Hiroshi Sugimoto’s exhibition at the Hayward Gallery.
Following our relaxed cinema viewings at the Castle Cinema, we have been keen to support older people in visiting art exhibitions, particularly as a source of stimulation during our Make Sense programmes. We were recently invited by the Southbank Centre to an event at the Hayward Gallery introducing their access scheme, geared towards improving the accessibility of their exhibition programme. This was a chance to hear about the scheme’s future ambitions but also how the Sugimoto relaxed viewing itself would likely work, and whether this would align wih the specific needs of the group we were planning to bring.
From a practical perspective the gallery offered many services that eased the intensity of the day. This included a taxi-shuttle from location close to where the group was traveling from, free entry tickets, complimentary tea and coffee at the cafe, a physical guide to take us round the exhibition, accessible printed material that supported the understand of the work, as well as an information pack available prior to the exhibition which gave carers useful knowledge of the space itself.
The exhibition could be explored in any direction comfortable to the group, with additional activities delivered in various rooms by the artists Georgia Akbar, Takeshi Matsumoto and Renata Minoldo. This stimulated the visitors on a more active level, while adding a new level of understanding to a specific part of Sugimoto’s work. Our group particularly enjoyed the workshop by dance movement psychotherapist Takeshi Matsumoto, which used movement in response to sound and Sugimoto's architecture series.
Our visit was very successful example of how a gallery can make their exhibitions more accessible for older people, particularly those with cognitive impairment. The Hayward gallery plans to offer two relaxed viewing sessions per exhibition, which we will look to make a regular part of our Make Sense programmes. We also plan to instigate similar visits to other galleries, either already with relaxed visits in place, or to even actively support the gallery in making a relaxed viewing happen.
This visit has been made possible by Camden Giving.