Seminar & Exhibition in Viljandi, Estonia

February 8th – March 9th, 2017
Seminar program February 8th, 2017
Reeli Sirotkina (Uni. of Tartu): What we could learn from ageing process?

Seminar in Viljandi was held in Sakala Centre. First, we had two interesting expert lectures. Reeli Sirotkina (MSW) from University of Tartu talked about how we perceive ageing and talk with older people. We are easily afraid of ageing which we relate to deterioration and death and, we are not so used to being with older people anymore. It is natural to be afraid of unfamiliar. We think that there is some special way to treat and talk to them “according to their age”, somehow different from others.

Against this common belief, older people shouldn’t be treated differently, but just like any grown up, autonomous person. Sirotkina says that by talk we can either show our respect and promote agency, or hinder it. Think about what kind of talk makes you feel respected?

Handmade Wellbeing Viljandi
Reeli Sirotkina talked about how we perceive ageing and treat older people. Ageism is a threat. Photo: Sirpa Kokko

Sirotkina also talked about inner and outer sense of control. Getting older and needing more help has a negative effect on the sense of being control of your own life. Decisions are made for you by others. Inner sense of control should be supported in later age. Older people wish to be asked about what they like and what kind of activities they want to participate. Self-determination is important for them.

We are all ageing, every minute. We are not identical now, so why should we be treated like mass in later age? After all, people are individuals, regardless of their age.

Handmade Wellbeing Viljandi
In Handmade Wellbeing seminar it is appropriate to knit while listening. Photo: Sirpa Kokko
Kadri Medijainen (Uni. of Tartu): Hand function and wellbeing of elderly

Kadri Medijainen (MSc) from the Institute of Sport Sciences and Physiotherapy of the University of Tartu talked about hands, hand function and handicrafts from physical, functional perspective. From a physiotherapist’s point of view, hand is an organ and a tool especially adapted to seize and grasp. Some activities are more demanding and require more dexterity and strength than others. However, it is a sheer fact that something in our physics changes when we get older. The ability to do things with our hands reduces, because aging changes for example muscles and nervous system. Hand function, the ability to perform different tasks with hands, is one of the main indicators of how well one can survive independently in daily life. We need hands in most of our daily tasks. In other words, keeping up hand function enhances possibilities to be more independent and live at home in later age.

Handmade Wellbeing Viljandi
Kadri Medijainen talked about hands as tools. Photo: Sirpa Kokko

Medijainen had a clear message: use it or lose it. If hands are used to perform tasks that require fine motor skills and strength, it’s fighting against deterioration. She liked the name of our project, Handmade Wellbeing, and said it is true. By helping to maintain hand function, for example by making crafts, is enhancing wellbeing. She encouraged craft instructors to think about the advantages of making crafts on physical level too, and to make it one target of craft activities in addition to expressive and social targets. It is also important to pay attention to the whole body, good posture and working ergonomically, not just hands. Craft workshops give other specialists, like physiotherapist, an opportunity to observe and assess a person’s function, and “prescribe” activities to maintain these functions. This was a good example of how experts from different fields can work together.

Handmade Wellbeing Viljandi
There are different kind of aids to help older people in making crafts. Photo: Mari Salovaara
Presentations from project partners

All the project partners also introduced their process and experiences. In Estonia, the focus was on finding suitable craft techniques for working with older people. In Austria, the aim was to make older people visible again through creative work, because ageing makes you invisible. Collaboration and communication are essential parts of artistic working. In UK, individual guidance and the one-on-one communication was experienced very important. In Finland, it was noticed that craft making with older people is basically the same as with anyone, but it is good to know something in general about physical and mental changes of ageing.

Handmade Wellbeing Viljandi
Edith Draxl presents experiences from team Kunstlabor Graz, Austria. Photo: Sirpa Kokko
Experiences from Finlandsee the slideshow

February 8th – March 9th, 2017

Sakala Centre, Tallinna 5, Viljandi

Handmade Wellbeing Viljandi
Käsitöine heaolu = Handmade Wellbeing. Photo: Viljandi Culture Academy

The opening of the exhibition in Sakala Centre was after the seminar. The exhibition presented the crafts that were made in four different care settings, in workshops provided by Handmade Wellbeing instructors from Viljandi Culture Academy. Also photos from workshops were shown, photographed by Sandra Urvak.

During the night it was also possible to see and try out yourself the techniques of the workshops. This included monotype fabric printing, making badges and making ribbons. One of the techniques, metalwork, could not be demonstrated in exhibition space.

Handmade Wellbeing Viljandi
Colourful ribbons with credits. Photo: Sirpa Kokko

It was very nice to see all the colourful and skilled crafts made by participants, and the intensity and concentration of the workshops from the photos. Well done!