Dear Felice: A Response to Alzheimer’s

Rebecca Stapledon
EXHIBITION  RUNS
   
June
   
6
 -  
June
   
17
Rebecca Stapledon has exhibited continuously since graduating with first class honours from the ANU School of Art in 2012. Her works have been shown widely in Sydney, Wagga Wagga, Canberra, Melbourne and Bangkok. She was awarded an ANU scholarship for her Honours year and, on graduation, a print studio residency at Megalo Print Studio and Gallery, Canberra.

INFORMATION

Dear Felice is a series of drawings and etchings that are a response to drawings done by a resident in an aged care facility with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease.

 

I am an artist that is also a registered nurse in a nursing home in which all residents suffer from cognitive impairment. As a care worker for people with dementia we have a complex role that is not widely spoken or known. I wanted to make a series that is about a personal response I have had during my career in order for viewers to take a glimpse into the world of residents suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, to promote awareness and discussion about the condition.

 

The exhibition comprises of several etchings and drawings I have produced that show an appreciation for a series of drawings of one resident, a man in his 80s suffering from severe dementia. He had come to Australia as a young man from a non-English speaking country and reverted to his first language, a language noone in the nursing home staff spoke or understood. He was agitated in his behaviour and was regularly awake all night.

 

At the time I knew this man I was working on regular night duty and observed that several residents slept very little and paced the corridors with nothing to occupy them, except disturbing other residents. I began to experiment with different activities to occupy residents during the night. One of these activities was drawing. I used printer paper and a biro. This resident returned to the activity several times over three months. I observed his approach to thedrawings he generated over this period of time. First his marks were tentative and he seemed to be trying to write letters (he had lost his capacity to read and write). Then as he continued he became more engrossed and more fluid in his mark making, calmer and more confident, reacting to the composition of the page and engaging both positive and negative spaces.

 Several years after this experience I started to make some drawings in recollection to the drawings he had generated. I believe the drawings are a type of remembrance. I see them as emotional, my inner-self responding to his humanity.I wanted to give what he had produced some weight and importance. I could do this by transforming some of the visual language he had produced into moreresolved pieces. Some pieces use geometric forms to create a structure to frame and suggest strength in his self expression and creativity. Other works are more a soothing and nuturing reaction with the use of watercolour and a neutral, pale palette to signify the compassion, love and tenderness that is evident amongst the staff in a care home environment.

 

Alzheimer’s is a significant terminal illness and with the growing number of elderly citizens in Australia, an increasing issue for society about how these people are cared for and respected as human beings. In this series, using the drawing of just one patient with Alzheimer’s, I have tried to honour his expression, even at a stage of advanced dementia when a lot of cognitive capacity has been lost to the disease.

Dear Felice is a series of drawings and etchings that are a response to drawings done by a resident in an aged care facility with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease.

 

I am an artist that is also a registered nurse in a nursing home in which all residents suffer from cognitive impairment. As a care worker for people with dementia we have a complex role that is not widely spoken or known. I wanted to make a series that is about a personal response I have had during my career in order for viewers to take a glimpse into the world of residents suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, to promote awareness and discussion about the condition.

 

The exhibition comprises of several etchings and drawings I have produced that show an appreciation for a series of drawings of one resident, a man in his 80s suffering from severe dementia. He had come to Australia as a young man from a non-English speaking country and reverted to his first language, a language noone in the nursing home staff spoke or understood. He was agitated in his behaviour and was regularly awake all night.

 

At the time I knew this man I was working on regular night duty and observed that several residents slept very little and paced the corridors with nothing to occupy them, except disturbing other residents. I began to experiment with different activities to occupy residents during the night. One of these activities was drawing. I used printer paper and a biro. This resident returned to the activity several times over three months. I observed his approach to thedrawings he generated over this period of time. First his marks were tentative and he seemed to be trying to write letters (he had lost his capacity to read and write). Then as he continued he became more engrossed and more fluid in his mark making, calmer and more confident, reacting to the composition of the page and engaging both positive and negative spaces.

 Several years after this experience I started to make some drawings in recollection to the drawings he had generated. I believe the drawings are a type of remembrance. I see them as emotional, my inner-self responding to his humanity.I wanted to give what he had produced some weight and importance. I could do this by transforming some of the visual language he had produced into moreresolved pieces. Some pieces use geometric forms to create a structure to frame and suggest strength in his self expression and creativity. Other works are more a soothing and nuturing reaction with the use of watercolour and a neutral, pale palette to signify the compassion, love and tenderness that is evident amongst the staff in a care home environment.

 

Alzheimer’s is a significant terminal illness and with the growing number of elderly citizens in Australia, an increasing issue for society about how these people are cared for and respected as human beings. In this series, using the drawing of just one patient with Alzheimer’s, I have tried to honour his expression, even at a stage of advanced dementia when a lot of cognitive capacity has been lost to the disease.

FEATURED  WORKS

Rebecca Stapledon, Ritual III, 2019, gouache drawing, 15 x 21 cm
Rebecca Stapledon, Ritual VIII (detail), 2019, ink drawing, 32 x 24 cm
Rebecca Stapledon, To pay homage IV, 2019, etching, 25 x 28 cm

OTHER  EXHIBITIONS