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Confronting stigma and misconceptions associated with Dementia: Visual to Vocal returns

On the 12th December 2013, surrounded by baroque masterpieces in the Gallery’s impressive enfilade, Dulwich Picture Gallery hosted a unique concert which saw people with dementia and their carers performing a unique concert. Led by a composer and lyricist from English Touring Opera, the concert was a culmination of Visual to Vocal, an intergenerational programme of workshops for 20 people with early stage dementia and those who care for them. Rather than focusing on memory loss, the project looked at what could be gained through looking at paintings; interpreting them through creative writing and forming the words into songs.

Participants worked with music students from Dulwich College and the Royal College of Music to write lyrics and music, each week based on a different painting.

Brenda, who has early stage Alzheimer’s, attended the workshops with her carer husband John. She said:

“The group is so easy to be with because everyone’s heart is in it. It helps us open up. John and I have very different interests so it’s been great coming to something that we can both enjoy.­­ When you first hear that you have Alzheimers, it’s a terrible thing.  I felt very down, but music makes me feel better.”

John said:

“The accumulation of viewing a painting, then extracting elements and formulating lyrics unleashes creativity.”

Re-live the ground-breaking project through this special video of the performance