Recorded memories from residents living in a care home were created into an exciting sound installation that was opened last week. The 12 week sound project at Jewish Care’s Kun Mor and George Kiss Home aimed to celebrate the diverse experiences of the residents life stories.
The project formed part of the home’s ongoing creative arts programme. Jewish Care’s Creative Arts Programme Manager, Caroline D’Souza came up with the idea for the project having listened to a wealth of recorded memories shared by residents in the home; “I knew that the material was so rich and moving and funny so we recorded memories to be shared with more people and exhibited.”
Caroline contacted Andy Cruz sound artist at Output Arts who worked with Jewish Care Living Well facilitator, Esther Ainsworth who is also a sound artist to co-create the installation project. What was developed is a quirky exhibition with memories of times gone by being shared in unexpected places.
“The sounds came from within old style everyday objects like an old suitcase and gramophone to build atmosphere and evoke previous times when our residents were younger” commented Caroline. The words are brought to life as the voices emerge through headphones trailing out of a teapot in the garden scene, memories of working life are ‘housed’ in an old style telephones next to a typewriter and stories of travellers and travelling play from a suitcase and tales.
One of the traveller’s tales that emerges from the suitcase is the voice of Jean Cohen, who talks about war time and her memories of American GI’s coming to the UK. Jean says, “My mum and dad invited soldiers for Friday night dinner and I was just smitten with those Americans. I was young and they were so cute. I just wanted to listen to them and they used to tell us how they loved listening to our accents too.”
As 95 year old Minnie Rose listens to the voice emerging from the suitcase and looks at a photo album of another resident’s old photos she begins to talk about her own holidays on a cruise in 1964 which cost £99. The thirteen residents who took part in the project clearly enjoyed the opportunity to share stories and see their words take on new life. Sybil, 94 added, “I like to chat so I’m happy to talk about anything with people so it was fun to record our memories.”
Another resident and participant, Renee Blake, said, “It was good to get together for the recordings. There were people I knew there and I met new people, we laughed and joked and talked together. I’m glad to listen to the stories.”
After the private view, Caroline D’Souza added, “The added benefit of a project like this is also that for those participating as well as the staff and their families is that it is a great opportunity to get to know one another better and form new friendships. The exhibition will stay in the home throughout June for residents and visitors to enjoy, relax and reflect on these fabulous stories in the home.”
After the private viewing, Andy Cruz from Output Arts, paid tribute to those who took part in the project “I’d like to thank you all for your wit, the laughs and your honesty in all our discussions and to everyone for making us feel so welcome here whilst we’ve been working on the sound project with Jewish Care.”