Larbert gallery finds art can help in battle against dementia

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The skill, concentration and sheer joy of creating art can help combat the symptoms of various forms of dementia and there’s living, breathing proof in Larbert.

Scottish secretary for culture Fiona Hyslop visited Delta Studios recently and saw first hand the way creativity can help those who have dementia cope with their symptoms.

During her time at the popular Lochlands Industrial Estate studios, the secretary met James Hay (60), from Larbert, who had been diagnosed with frontal temporal lobe dementia a few years ago.

The grandfather-of-seven told her regularly attending art classes at Delta helps him to focus his mind and keep him sharp.

“Culture makes an enormous contribution to improving people’s lives,” said the Scottish culture secretary. “It enhances physical health and mental wellbeing and it’s great to see how the creative activities at Delta Studios complement the treatment and care of people affected by mental health issues.

“It is important we make the arts accessible to everyone, and I’ve been particularly interested to hear from people like James, who demonstrates just how vital creativity has been to his health, in keeping his mind sharp and focused, as he lives with a very challenging condition.”

James was also singing the praises of Delta Sudios and the classes he attends on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

The classes are not designed specifically for those with dementia – but they do follow the Delta Studios’ ethos of being as inclusive as possible.

James said: “There’s a few issues with my brain, but I can function quite well. It’s more to do with impulse control. Sometimes I think things and just say them – like a filter in my brain has been turned off.”

Concentration is also an issue for James, but does not seem to hinder him when he’s working on his acrylics or his clay sculptures at Delta.

“It does help me to concentrate. It’s quite a rare thing I’ve got in that I can still function quite well and can have conversations with people. Sometimes though there’s an issue and I end up doing the same thing all the time and then I can jump from one thing to the other without finishing anything.

“The art allows me to finish things and it also calms me down.”

Delta Studios director Craig McKechnie, pictured left, said: “There’s no other place in the whole of Britain like Delta Studios and part of the reason for that is that division walls don’t exist here – everyone is welcome.

“We have around 1000 people a month coming here and every day is an awareness raising day at Delta Studios and people like James would fully support that. I believe Delta Studios has had a hugely positive effect on his condition.

“We have no labels on anyone here. People of all ages come here and some of them have vulnerabilities. We have a great relationship with the social work department and the hospital, who see how art can enhance people’s lives.

“This is not art therapy – it goes beyond that.”

Visit www.deltastudios.net or e-mail hello@deltastudios.net for more information on the studio.