About the project
Older people often find it difficult to get out to see or participate in arts and cultural activities, and even more so those living in care homes. We believe digital arts have an important role in creative ageing, with both the potential to reduce the digital divide by introducing technology to older people in a non-threatening and playful way and to increase participation through remote access to the arts.
In 2017, Nottingham City Arts was awarded a grant from a joint fund set up by the Baring Foundation and the Nominet Trust for a programme called Armchair Gallery. The aim of this programme is to develop an iPad and Android app offering bespoke virtual tours of world class art collections to engage older people whose circumstances mean they cannot visit in person.
It is a sad fact that when people get older they often become cut off from cultural life – health and mobility issues make visits to cultural institutions a rare occurrence.
Armchair Gallery is bringing art to them.
We started with an Armchair Gallery pilot project in 2014 which supported 250 Nottingham care home residents to access the historic art collections of Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, and South East London’s Dulwich Picture Gallery. With the support of professional artists a particular model of practice has been developed. We have supported residents to take inspiration from the treasures of the Chatsworth and Dulwich collections to create their own artworks in response to their virtual visits.
This funding supported the Armchair Gallery to launch the app in cities throughout the UK. It added another five cultural venues into the app – The Lowry, the Pitt Rivers Museum, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Mr Straws House and Newstead Abbey.
The finished app includes instructions for creative activities that care home staff can run with older people. The app can also be used by individuals, family members and carers supporting older people, artists and health and education professionals.
“I recognised some of the artworks from my visits to Chatsworth House in the past. The Armchair Gallery has brought back great memories.”
Care home resident
“I enjoyed it so much, art and movement threaded together so well. Says a lot of the person running it.”
Care home resident
“The group definitely defined the session as not being crafts based and liked looking at conceptual art.”
Retirement Living Advisor
“It has been touching to witness the smiles, laughter, immersion, surprise and amazement at the growth that has taken place.”