A MOVING exhibition of artwork created by people living with dementia – and their carers – is on display at a North East artc centre.

The Creative Age Exhibition at Arts Centre Washington (ACW) was due to close on August 5, but has proved so popular that it has been extended to Saturday, August 19.

The group behind the exhibition, Creative Age, was one of two Wearside groups formed in 2016 to support people with dementia and their carers through artistic workshops. One group meets at ACW every Friday between 1pm and 3pm and the other meets at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens on Wednesdays from 1pm to 2pm.

Organised and supported by Sunderland Culture, the groups are led by local artists who help members explore a range of different art forms.

The ACW Creative Age Exhibition features work from both Creative Age groups and includes ceramic work, paintings, glass work and animation.

The groups were originally formed for those living with dementia and their carers, but has evolved to support people throughout their dementia journey, as well as people with other life-limiting conditions, their carers and former carers.

Matt Blyth, Culture and Heritage Officer at Sunderland Culture, said: “The artists use their creativity and expertise to support the group to realise their creative ambitions – imagination is at the heart of everything the group does.

“Creative Age is incredibly important to its members who support each other while having a laugh. Some of the members meet up outside of the group and have formed life-long friendships.

“They’re always there for each other – when one of our members lost her husband who had dementia, she attended the group meeting on the day he died, relying on the support of the group.

“They all danced to her husband’s favourite song – Singing in the Rain – to celebrate his life. They are so generous and supportive with each other, and welcoming new members in too.”

Brian Heath, one of the Friday group’s original members, said: “For many of us, Creative Age can be the highlight of our week. It enables us to be husbands, wives, partners or friends and not someone living with dementia or a life-limiting condition - or their carer.

“We all enjoy the range of artforms we explore and all of the artists are great to work with.”

The Northern Echo: Lyn Chapman, left, and Anne Walton with their ceramic, self-portrait heads that feature in the exhibitionLyn Chapman, left, and Anne Walton with their ceramic, self-portrait heads that feature in the exhibition (Image: SUNDERLAND CULTURE)

Anne Walton, another original member of the group added: “We’re very supportive of each other – a group of friends who meet to have a laugh, enjoy each others’ company and learn something new.

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“Dementia or illness might be the thing that links us, but that’s not what this group is about – that takes a back seat while we enjoy ourselves for an hour or two.”

Creative Age is supported by the Sir John Priestman Charity Trust, The Joicey Trust and Durham Benevolence. The exhibition has been supported by donations in memory of founding member Derek Hutchinson and the family of Brian, who asked his family to support the group instead of buying gifts for his 80th birthday.

Creative Age is the name for the overarching project set up by Equal Arts, a creative ageing charity, whose aim is to support adults living with dementia, and their carers, to participate in arts activities to improve their wellbeing.