Welcome to Lighting Up

What is Lighting Up?

Lighting Up is a group of artists working alongside people living with dementia in Bristol UK and surrounding areas. Our mission is to support people who are living with dementia, helping them to maintain or improve the quality of their lives, through visual arts. The term people living with dementia means people who have dementia and those who help them (normally referred to as ‘carers’).

Lighting Up was formed in 2007 with the support of Alzheimer’s Society Bristol office and North Bristol Artists. It is now an independent charity with a current membership of around 30 artists and other supporters.

Why use art?

Art (in its widest sense) is recognised as an effective help to overcoming difficulties associated with dementia such as impairment of memory and verbal communication.  People with quite severe communication difficulties can often understand, and express themselves to other people through art media, and this in turn can help them with their ability to express themselves and to understand spoken language. Carers often comment that they have not seen the person they care for expressing themselves, concentrating, and even enjoying themselves so much for some considerable time. For carers too this is important, as they can be surprised at what the person they care for is able to achieve. It may help them to find more effective ways of communicating in their own homes.

We use the word ‘artist’ as shorthand, as some ‘artists’ bring creative skills that could be regarded as ‘crafts’ rather than ‘art’.

What we do

Lighting Up sessions normally take place once a month, and we see it as important to establish continuity from one session to the next. At present we work at Drop-in sessions at Filton, Westbury-on-Trym and Withywood. The Drop-ins are organised by Alzheimer’s Society Bristol office.  We also work with people who live in extra-care housing at Lincoln Gardens in Lawrence Hill.  Lincoln Gardens is managed by The Guinness Partnership with care services provided by Housing 21.

Participants may be a bit unsure about what will happen at the start of a session and some people with dementia may be quite anxious. The artists start by working alongside them to begin to find out the best way to work with them on that day. From then on the session is exciting and stimulating for participants and artists alike. Some carers like to work together with the person they care for. Others take the opportunity to work more individually, finding a moment of what is sometimes called ‘private space’.

The pictures on this website give a closer idea of what happens – all the people in them appreciate taking part in Lighting Up enormously and look forward to their next session.

The pages of this website

This website has six pages. You can go to any of these pages by clicking on its name in the list below or by clicking on the page names in the orange bar at the top of the page.

  • The Home page, which is this page.
  • Like to try Lighting Up? This page is for people who have dementia and for people who look after them.
  • Like to be a Lighting Up artist? This page is for artists considering joining us.
  • How does Lighting Up work? This page is for people interested in supporting us by making a donation or giving other practical help, and for agencies interested in working with us through contracting or sponsorship.
  • Lighting Up aims. This page gives the formal wording of our Mission Statement and how we aim to achieve it.
  • Contact us. This page tells how to get in contact with us.

Watch our short film

To view an 8 minute film about Lighting Up, simply press the arrow at the centre of the image:

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