ERA - Encouraging Relationships with Art

A unique contemporary art programme for older people

The ERA – Encouraging Relationships with Art project was supported by the Arts council for Northern ireland, Arts & Older People Programme. Though this project we made a specific and deliberate commitment to develop programmes with older people that create meaningful, inclusive experiences with art. The ERA project took place in Void Gallery and in several offsite locations from March – June 2016.

There were several strands to the ERA project which was concentrated on the work of Anne Wenzel in the ‘Day Breaks, Night Falls’ exhibition, curated by Mhairi Sutherland. The learning team at Void welcomed hundreds of people into the gallery for guided tours and workshops, received training on how to become a dementia friendly gallery and began a subsequent programme of engagement with adults who live with dementia as well as focusing on the upskilling of local artists and the creation of a working group made up of community stakeholders. 

The project delivered over 25 visual art workshops joining five local artists with active age groups and Day Care Centres across the Derry City and Strabane council areas. Owen Mor Care Centre, Seven Oaks Care Centre, The Gasyard Mens Shed, Age Concern Causeway, and Ballylaw womens group visited the gallery and took part in a guided tour of the Wenzel exhibition. They then spent time with their artist deciding what sort of work they would like to make in response and agreed on a schedule of sessions to happen in their centres. Each artist then delivered workshops where they created mixed media artworks inspired by the Wenzel exhibition.  

A group exhibition of the work created was shown on Monday 20 June, 12.30- 3pm.