Exhibition & Seminar in Graz, Austria

October 12th – 22nd, 2016

October 12th – 22nd, 2016

Schmiedgasse 36, Graz

More info here

Kunst ist Schokolade fürs Hirn, Handmade Wellbeing
Art is Chocolate for Your Brain. That's right! Photo: uniT

Opening of the Kunst ist Schokolade fürs Hirn -exhibition was held on October 12th, 2016. The house was packed!

All the artists from senior care settings were invited to the opening, and many of them arrived with family members. All the Kunstlabor artists who were involved in the Handmade Wellbeing project were present, as well as arts and crafts experts who collaborated with Kunstlabor in this project. As the exhibition opening was arranged during the project’s training week, also project managers and learners from all the project partner countries could attend. In addition, city of Graz representatives, media and other arts & crafts lovers were present. What a pleasant night!

Handmade Wellbeing exhibition Graz
The Exhibition Opening Party! Photo: Sirpa Kokko

The exhibition presented the artwork that was made by the older participants in three different care settings in Graz area during the arts & crafts workshops provided by Kunstlabor artists. The workshops were arranged during the summer and autumn 2016.

More images from the exhibitionSee photo gallery
In der Hand des Betrachters

A film by Sylvia Marija Hurynowicz

About the creative process of older people and Kunstlabor artists during the Handmade Wellbeing project. The film was shown in the exhibition.

Kunst ist Schokolade fürs Hirn -seminar program October 13th, 2016
Kai Lehikoinen (Theatre Academy, University of Arts, Finland): The contribution of art in the social field

Seminar in Graz was held in Theater am Lend. First, Kai Lehikoinen (PhD, university lecturer) from University of Arts in Finland gave a presentation about arts practice and research in social field. According to Lehikoinen, more research is needed about the contribution of arts to wellbeing on micro-level. Research evidence shows that arts enhance wellbeing. However, this argument is too general and does not consider individual differences and preferences. For example, it is far too easy to assume that all older people enjoy the same kind of music. More transparency and details about conducted activities in interventions and their effects on micro-level is needed in research.

Handmade Wellbeing seminar Graz
First speaker, Kai Lehikoinen from Theatre Academy, University of Arts, Finland. Photo: Sirpa Kokko

Also, when working with older people, we should not primarily look at their diagnoses and assume to know what is good for them. Each person has their own individual history and preferences, which should not be passed. Life-course has a profound influence on people’s experiences of themselves and their lives.

Lehikoinen also talked about what should the arts facilitator know when working with older people. Some crucial aspects are knowing good communication, knowing different techniques and considering the limitations of older people, understanding ageing process, knowing facilitation methods and being mindfully attentive.

Finally, Lehikoinen emphasized the meaning of pedagogy in creative activities. Instead of wondering which art form enhances wellbeing best, we should focus on how the activities are realized.

Between occupational therapy and participatory art project
Is art capable of anything? What is art capable of in the social field?

Collaborators in the Handmade Wellbeing project, Daniela Leitmayer (Occupational Therapist, Residential Home Eggenberg) and Franz Pechmann, M.A. (Director, Residential and Nursing Home Graz St. Peter) discussed with artists of Kunstlabor Graz about the meaning and value of art projects and collaboration with artists for the care settings.

Having fun and experiencing accomplishment without being useful are important purposes of creative activities. This can replace the experiences and successes formerly gained in work.

Handmade Wellbeing seminar Graz
Collaborational tablecloth printed in workshop for training week participants and care home residents was given to Daniela Leitmayer from Eggenberg Care Home. Photo: Sirpa Kokko

It is also important to show to the relatives, what the older people are capable of. Bodily movement in craft making is beneficial from occupational therapist’s point of view. Art also stimulates communication and making things together adds the motivation to participate.

The individual differences and preferences of older people were emphasized in this discussion too. Everyone has their own experience of aesthetics, but it was noted that arts can teach toleration towards things that are not familiar. Adaptation, tolerance and resilience are all sources of wellbeing and can be trained in artistic processes. However, participation should always be voluntary and the choice of the participant, not prescribed by the doctor or recommended by relatives. Invite people to participate and encourage to do also unfamiliar things, but don’t make them.

The significance and value of collaboration with artists lies especially in the new ideas and energy they bring in care settings. With one activities coordinator working in care home the possibilities are limited. With more facilitators, it is possible to do things bigger and this allows also exchange of ideas and adds creativity. It is important for the care home staff to have new ideas for their work.

Flexibility is important in creative activities. If something does not work, it should be possible to change the concept. A good idea for future work is to have an experiment group of older people who test the concept before it is run in care settings and give their comments.

Professor Barbara Putz-Plecko (Vice Rector for Artistic and Scientific Research and Quality Development, University of Applied Arts Vienna): Is this art?

In this presentation, Professor Barbara Putz-Plecko discussed artists working in social sector and whether this kind of work in applied settings can be considered ‘real’ art from the artist’s perspective. This is an issue that has raised a lot of discussion and debate in recent years, while it has become more common for artists to work with different target groups in health and wellbeing sector.

Also, Kunstlabor Graz presented their previous work in care settings during the seminar day. See their previous work here.