Just over a year ago four Aberdeen pensioners were getting ready to make their national TV debut as ‘Graffiti Grannies’ on ITV’s This Morning show with Phillip and Holly.
The four, Pearl, Dorothy, Anne and Rosemary were part of a group of over 65’s who all took part in a two day graffiti workshop held as part of the award winning international street art festival Nuart Aberdeen developed and led by internationally renowned Portuguese curator and architect, Lara Seixo Rodrigues.
Lara devised the workshop for the elderly after noticing through her own curatorial interventions that urban art was reaching and provoking a reaction from the most varied of groups, but particularly older people and residents.
One year on and at a time where isolation and loneliness is a global concern Lara and her team have come up with a ‘Quarantine Workbook” as a means to help fulfil the need to combat isolation of the elderly.
The Quarantine Workbook is a compendium of illustrations to colour, stories, messages, 'conversation starters', puzzles, embroidery patterns, illustrated words, gym classes, 'new forms of communication' between the elderly and the world, between grandparents and grandchildren, which offers a creative avenue to occupy their time and feed the soul.
The Quarantine Workbook has been a huge success in Portugal with more than 15,000 copies now in the hands of the elderly. In addition since its launch just a few weeks ago more than 45,000 visits have been made to the website where the book is available to download for free.
Most of the website traffic comes from Portugal, but the visitor analysis also showed the site had interest from countries such as Brazil, Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Belgium and Switzerland, in total the Quarantine Workbook has now reached a total of 67 countries on line.
In this context and responding to an increasingly international demand, given that isolation and confinement has been the general rule worldwide, Lara’s organisation ‘Mistaker Maker’ has made the Quarantine Workbook available in three foreign languages: English, French and Spanish and she approached Aberdeen Inspired to partner in the UK with a hope of getting the workbook into the hands of many more elderly people.
Commenting on the initiative Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired said: “We were been blown away by the global attention that Lara’s workshop LATA 65 – Young at Art gained as part of Nuart Aberdeen last year. Four of our local participants were propelled into the national spotlight and ended up on a number national TV programmes including This Morning, The One Show and Susan Callman’s Secret Scotland.
“Lara’s genuine concern and exploration of how art connects with the elderly is inspirational and they should be applauded for putting their time and efforts into creating a workbook which helps with isolation and offers a hand of friendship in a time when it is most needed.”
Lara Seixo Rodrigues who is the mastermind the Quarantine Workbook and taught Aberdeen’s over 65’s about graffiti last year, said: “We have a special affection for Nuart Aberdeen and the people we met last year. One of the goals of the project is to gather as many partners and organisations to help us get these workbooks into the hands of as many people as possible during this difficult time.
“In Portugal and after just 20 days, we already have 4,000 printed editions, guaranteed by Mistaker Maker and direct partners, and distributed by several nursing homes, institutions, cities councils and private homes.
“The workbook we have developed has been a collaborative project with over 40 different artists and contributors and the content is mainly focused in fighting the isolation of elderly people, that are being highly affected by this pandemic.”
Pearl Cameron, who took part in the Lata 65 – Young At Art graffiti workshop as part of Nuart Aberdeen last year, said: “What a great idea at a time when, as I know, us elderly folk are even more isolated than normal. Taking part in the workshop really changed my life and provided me with a pathway that opened my eyes to how I could channel and use my creativity to keep me mentally and physically active.
“It really had a big impact on me, its ironic that the facemasks and PPE we dawned for the workshop have become the norm all but a year later! Lara is such a lovely person and she should be commended for this work, I really hope the workbook gets into the hands of as many elderly people as possible and that it makes a difference to them at this difficult time.”
As well as undertaking to share the Quarantine Workbook with local council health and social care partners, nursing homes and elderly and community organisations, Aberdeen Inspired will share the project with other BIDS around the UK and encourage them to share within their on town and city networks.
It is hoped that each can find willing partners who will commit to printing and distributing copies to the elderly in their towns and cities.
“We just want to help get this document to the largest number of people and those that need it the most in these challenging times.
“Our Graffiti Grannies (and Grandad’s) touched the nations hearts last year and its important that our elderly population who are at most risk during this pandemic feel supported and have things to do to help them cope through these challenging times”, added Adrian Watson.
The Quarantine Workbook is free to anyone who wants a copy and can be downloaded from the Aberdeen Inspired website aberdeeninspired.com/insight/quarantine-workbook.
In addition, local printer Compass Print have agreed to support the initiative and committed to printing 100 copies of the 44 page book for distribution to local care homes.
Commenting on this, Janice Wilson, director at Compass Print said: “What a great project which shows at this time of separation how countries, businesses and communities can actually all come together and support each other.
“We are happy to fund the production of 100 copies of the workbook and will get them to care homes through the councils network. Aberdeen Inspired bring so much to the city centre and we are delighted to partner them in delivering this initiative.”
Aberdeen Inspired are keen to get as many hard copies of the workbook into circulation as possible within the local care and nursing home network and are asking for support from any other companies who may wish to help fund the printing costs through sponsorship to get in touch.