MEMORIES are precious and like a tree when it can no longer preserve its leaves, the colour may fade but the beauty will always remain.
This is one of the many powerful messages Cynthia Hoogstraten, Josephina Beckers and Kay Shelton hope to convey in their upcoming art exhibition, Dementia is a Person: The Leaf Project.
Displaying a selection of bright-coloured leaves with intricate patterns, each leaf has been handpainted by a participant that has Dementia or Alzheimers.
“I always let participants choose the colours, because a lot of them have had choices taken away from their life, so at least they could choose their colours and how they painted the leaves reveals a lot about who they are,” trained art therapist Ms Beckers said.
“When the brain doesn’t communicate with the hand and they do something creative like painting, that connection re-establishes itself and what I saw many times was that they become a whole person again.”
The artistic trio started working on the project when they each had their own experience with the devastating impact of the disease.
“My Dad had Dementia and when he wasn’t able to speak anymore, I began bringing a different activity, like painting or music, so I could still connect with him,” Ms Hoogstraten said.
“Leaves symbolise the circle of life and the dead leaves that fall off a tree might be disregarded, but if you stop to pick it up, look at it and embellish it, you will see that leaf still has a lot of beauty, quality and individualism,” Ms Hoogstraten said
Some participants selected colours to represent water and fire and the environmental challenges that Australia had been experiencing at the time.
Anyone who wishes to submit painted leaves to the project, is welcome.
The free exhibition will open on May 1, at 5.30pm, at Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery on Barolin St.