I have recently been exploring the legacy of the earlier work I developed and critically looking to how it moves forward. Returning to work within the NHS and with the exemplary Occupational Therapists has enabled close collaboration in a more embedded way.
Originally, Fortuitous Novelties was initiated as a student project centred around an ageing population, which was identified as being an area of potential development. This saw the collaboration between Arts for Health at Manchester Metropolitan University, the Riverside Ward at Newholme Hospital in Derbyshire and myself when I was studying for my masters in Three Dimensional Design, also at MMU.
Working with staff and patients at the later stages of Dementia on Riverside, I created a unique three-dimensional design, known as a seed-pod, …or Fortuitous Novelties. This was utilised for conversation and participation during Occupational Therapy sessions on the ward,- and my own investigations. The response from the patients and staff has been compelling, with patients exhibiting significant periods of concentration and sentience. On completion of my MA with Distinction, I donated a number of these designed objects to the ward.
Subsequently, Clive Parkinson the director of Arts for Health has spoken at a variety of international conferences in the UK, Australia, Lithuania and the USA and shared anecdotal responses to this work. These have been shown in other countries health services and other cultural settings, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the National Gallery of Australia.
More recently the staff working on Riverside, those involved strategically across Derbyshire Community Health Services, myself the designer, and Arts for Health at MMU, believe that because the original project on Riverside exploring the seedpods was not a formal research project, perhaps we haven’t yet captured the essence of their impact and capitalised on its success.
Currently I am in the process of refining the design and the opportunity arose for Clive Parkinson and I to spend some time attending regular Occupational Therapy sessions with the patients to explore how these developments might happen in the design. Sharing old and new work with current clients of Riverside as part of regular group-work and individual sessions, is enabling a reappraisal of the work, its unique design and its potential for further development.
Arts for Health will produce a small publication that attempts to reflect on this process and describe the potential of design and the arts in the lives of people affected by dementia. This will provide Derbyshire Community Health Services with a potential advocacy tool that places them at the heart of creative, assets-based approach to well-being and human flourishing in older age.
…Additionally, I am to appear in a chapter of the Handbook of Interior Design, edited by Graeme Brooker and Lois Weinthal, due to be published shortly with Fortuitous Novelties featuring prominently and positively in this hardback tome!
Published by Fort Novel.