Bolling Hall Museum
Bradford District Museum & Galleries

The Unfurlings: banners for hope and change created by people living with dementia

Artist Ian Beesley, designer Martyn Hall, cartoonist Tony Husband and poet Ian McMillan, have worked with people with dementia and their carers to create a series of sixteen large banners that draw on the rich tradition of political banners highlighting inequalities, to campaign for a better understanding and representation of people living with dementia.

The ‘A Life More Ordinary’ project originated from research led by the University of Exeter, which aims to support people to live as well as possible with dementia. Through the project, the artists have worked with a number of groups affected by dementia around the country, including in Kent, Oldham, Preston, Exeter, York, Leeds, Bradford and Scarborough, with each area taking a different approach tailored to the group.

The idea of focusing on banners originated with a group the project worked with in York, which campaigns for better support for those living with dementia who travel by public transport.

Get involved at home with The Unfurlings Colouring pages:

Cottingley Crew Banner 

Kirlees Banner 

York Banner 

Artist Ian Beesley says “The banner that the York group created was so striking and so effective that all our other groups wanted to create their own banners. Banners are powerful symbols of self-reliance and tangible proof of existence and as such have proved to be a fantastic way of articulating many of the problems faced by people living with dementia.”

The ‘A Life More Ordinary’ project is led by Professor Linda Clare at the University of Exeter, in collaboration with Innovations in Dementia, and is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. It is part of the wider IDEAL programme – which stands for Improving the Experience of Dementia and Enhancing Active Life. IDEAL  is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), and Alzheimer’s Society.

Professor Linda Clare from the University of Exeter says “It’s wonderful to see the culmination of this project, which is part of our research with the key goal of supporting people to live as well as possible with dementia. Both the artists and the people affected by dementia have done an incredible job in coming together to create content that challenges the public perception of dementia as a downward spiral from diagnosis. We hope people will see the banners and ask themselves whether they can understand the needs of people with dementia better, and support them in their needs.”

Martyn Rogers, Age UK Exeter’s Chief Executive, says “It has been fantastic for the project to have the input of three such great creative talents. Together they have looked, listened and reflected the difference our Budding Friends service makes to the lives of its members and have created this remarkable banner as a lasting reminder of the fun, joy and shared support the project offers.”

For further information about The Unfurlings exhibition please contact Ian Beesley: / 07976 395109

For further information about the IDEAL programme please

More Community Projects

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