Snapshots – oral history / memory-based artworks

This project involved an oral historian working creatively with spoken testimonies to create memory-based art and poetry. It explored the importance of taking time to reflect on and celebrate a person’s life and achievements and what it means to have that life story encapsulated in an artwork. It raised important questions around the process and ethics of making art from people’s memories.

Memory-based artworks came out of creative relationships between artists and people with dementia, nurtured during a 12-week apprenticeship scheme as part of a partnership between Resonate Arts and the European Reminiscence Network. During a series of lively Remembering Together sessions, participants came together to share and celebrate their lives. Everyone remembers differently, but by using a variety of tools, including sensory prompts, music, visual aids, art, movement and role play, memories were unlocked and opportunities were created for everyone to share their stories and feel valued.

The project culminated in a series of personalised artworks made by the artist/apprentices, inspired by participants’ shared stories. These memory artworks continue to act as reminiscence prompts and are important reminders of the past, giving meaning to a life that was gradually being forgotten. One carer said of her mother’s artwork, “Every time Mum looks at it, she is seeing it afresh, as if it was the first time.” 

For more information contact: Sarah Gudgin.

More to explore

Kiyotaka Sato

A Japanese oral historian in Leicester

Between April 2001 and March 2002 Kiyotaka Sato was a visiting scholar at the Centre for Urban History and the East Midlands Oral History Archive (EMOHA) at the University of Leicester. During his time there he developed an interest in the history and culture of multi-ethnic Britain, and in particular in Leicester itself. Here he reflects on his subsequent research and the ‘Memory and Narrative’ series: a collection of biographical booklets that he published as a result of his work.

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