Welcome to award-winning poet, Sheila Templeton. Sheila, aged 78, had a nomadic childhood ranging from Aberdeenshire to East Africa. She now lives in Glasgow. Sheila is a former teacher who now writes full-time. She writes in both English and Doric (the form of Scots language found in North East Scotland). Read more "GUEST POET: SHEILA TEMPLETON"
Welcome to Larry Butler, who has been an influential figure in this project by providing support through Lapidus, by agreeing to publish the book, ‘Autumn Voices: Scottish writers talk about their creativity in later life’; and by being the one who suggested starting this blog.
Angelena has spent thirty- five years as an international training consultant, specialising in behavioural management and conflict resolution. She trained in Transactional Analysis, the psychology of communication and behaviour, her preferred tool for counselling and coaching.
She originates from the Peak District but has spent a life time travelling and living in places as far apart as Vancouver, Dubai, Paris, Seville and Iran. Now semi-retired in Great Malvern, she writes every morning, walks the hills and paints landscapes every afternoon and fits family and reading in between. Read more "GUEST BLOGGER: ANGELENA BODEN"
By Jodie Wilkinson
My name is Jodie and I work at Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT) in the role of Public Engagement Coordinator. I really love my job as every day brings new challenges and I have the privilege of collaborating with people who are both passionate about film and the power it has to enhance people’s lives and wellbeing. Glasgow Film Theatre truly is a cinema like no other, offering a uniquely warm cinema-going experience all year round. What began as a single screen cinema over 40 years ago has become Scotland’s most diverse and best publicly attended independent cinema in Scotland, with Glasgow Film Festival one of the top three film festivals in the UK. Read more "A CINEMA LIKE NO OTHER"
Welcome to our Guest Blogger for May, Kay Ritchie (age 68).
According to George Eliot, ‘It is never too late to be who you might have been’ which, as a late starter, I’ve always found rather comforting. I’d reached my mid-twenties before I went to art school, my forties by the time I got to university and was hitting sixty when I started writing. Read more "GUEST BLOGGER: KAY RITCHIE"
I was born in Devon in 1950 but grew up in Scotland and have lived there most of my life. I now share my time between Glasgow and Vancouver. I’ve written stuff since I was a kid and I studied English Literature at Glasgow University with a vague idea of becoming a writer. I didn’t take to academic life and tried to leave and go travelling. I was persuaded to finish my degree. I became interested in film-making whilst a student and have earned an erratic living as a freelance cinematographer and director since. Read more "GUEST POET: JAN PESTER"
One advantage of being older is having more time and space in my life to be creative. My first career was a civil servant in the Scottish Government. As a busy full time working Mum of two children, there was not too much time for other things. However, I did start to learn to play violin in my 40s and enjoyed the opportunity to d something outside of work and to play with others. While working, I had always wondered if I should have been a musician. Read more "GUEST BLOGGER: FIONA HARRISON"
BY FIONA HAMILTON
This piece was originally written by Fiona as a blog for The Age of Creativity website (www.ageofcreativity.co.uk/) on 19th September, 2016. Fiona has generously granted permission for it to be used on the Autumn Voices site.
Fiona Hamilton (www.fionahamilton.org) is a writer, facilitator, tutor and researcher. She is a highly experienced facilitator of groups and individuals
and designs creative projects for varied purposes. She works for Orchard Foundation and Metanoia Institute London and is Honorary Research Associate at the University of Bristol.
Stories for Wellbeing in Later Life
Stories are vitally important to people. Facilitating people’s stories is my job in a variety of settings. Sometimes this is with people exploring
themes in later life.
I employ a range of techniques and materials, from conversation, to
pictures, to creative writing drawing on literature, to objects people are
asked to bring in or that are provided and spread out on the table.
I bring a particular interest in oral and written stories, together with a passion for combining art forms to meet different needs.
Stories I Tell Myself and Others
This is the title of a course I devised for older people that was delivered for the first time this year in Bristol. It is designed for people aged 55+ and is an initiative with arts organization Orchard Foundation in association with the Portland Centre for Integrative Medicine, which specializes in person-centred healthcare. The holistic aims of both organisations converge, aiming to enhance people’s wellbeing through providing outlets for expression and opportunities for meaning-making in a supportive environment.
The arts in healthcare can have many benefits, such as increasing
confidence, and the sheer pleasure of creating something that is shared with others. Other research suggests that when people are able to write out their concerns as well as celebrate what they value,
health and wellbeing, psychologically and socially – and sometimes physically – can increase. To quote a pioneer researcher into the benefits of expressive writing, US -based psychologist James Pennebaker:
‘the essence of the writing technique is that it forces people to stop what they are doing and briefly reflect on their lives. It is one of the few times that people are given permission to see where they have been and where they are going without having to please anyone. They are able to prioritise their goals, find meaning in their past and future, and think about who they are at this point in life’ (Pennebaker, J. in 'The Writing Cure' edited by Lepore S J and Smyth JM, 2002).
There are many applications of creative arts with older people. Some of the approaches I have used are:
- looking at images and photographs as a way of reflecting on important life moments and sharing these, then paying more attention to them through writing a caption or short story
- taking a series of themes including ‘beginnings’, ‘thresholds’, ‘challenges’, ‘celebrations’ and providing a range of materials (sometimes literally textiles) to enable each person to find out what matters to them
- objects that have meaning – people may bring one into the session, or alternatively they are given a selection of objects such as shells, household objects, small items, useful tools, and invited to choose one and see what it evokes for them.
Creative writing for wellbeing for all
Creative writing approaches are tailored to the group’s needs and wishes. This doesn’t mean it’s all about pens and paper. Stories and writing are much
broader than this – after all, we all have stories, and we all have things to say.
For some the process might involve speaking a few sentences for the first time about something important. For others it might be writing a haiku or capturing reflections captured after looking at a picture of a landscape, listening to music, or doing some gentle yoga moves.
As facilitator I aim to provide a safe environment where the pleasures of
collaborative and individual creativity can be experienced by all.
‘Every telling or retelling of a story, through its performance, is a new telling that encapsulates, and expands upon the previous telling’ says narrative therapist Michael White (in ‘Narrative Means to Therapeutic Ends’, 1990). The sessions are in community settings such as libraries, in schools, in healthcare settings such as hospitals and complementary care services.
Memory, dreams, reflections
There is increased recognition of the vital part expression and time to reflect
plays in the lives of older people. Doing this with others can stimulate cognitive
function as well as provide access to important memories, the harvesting of
which is increasingly recognised as a creative process not merely a ‘fact-gathering’ exercise. As Neisser says: 'Memory is more of a process of re-
creation and reinterpretation of the past than accurate recall.’ (in Hunt, C. ‘Therapeutic Dimensions of Autobiography in Creative Writing’, 2000)
and Bolton says that ‘Writing..can create pathways to memories, feelings, and thoughts patients do not always know that they have…’ (in 'The Therapeutic Potential of Creative Writing’ by G Bolton, 2000).
One participant commented that the creative writing activities had enabled him to ‘find a voice’ and reach into parts of his experience in a fresh way. Joyful things and challenges were engaged with and he found this ‘immensely helpful’.
For further information about courses see:
Catrioana, who is 76, says about herself:
I live in Scotland, on the west coast by the Clyde. As a child I was interested in reading and began writing - in primary four I was sent round the classes to read a poem had written. During my teens I wrote some angst-ridden poetry. This stopped when I was busy training to be a primary teacher, marrying, producing a son and going through a divorce. However, I began writing again, both prose and poetry, and have done so ever since. I have been lucky enough to have been published in magazines and won competitions in both genres.
Gigha in July, the first of the three poems Catriona selected for this blog, won the 2018 James Muir Prize for Poetry, an annual competition run by the Scottish Association of Writers.
Gigha in July
It isn't just how, unhurried, Cathan's chapel changed to roofless walls of sleeping stones, nor the long, long creeping of the moss that hides the faded tales of its hidden bones, It's the now, slow green sea-swing of weed, the gently-feeling fingers of a rising tide and the way this wind is just a passing breath that lifts the reaching gulls to wheel and glide out where, above Kintyre's hazy hills, clouds pile and billow, soft and leisurely, or the way the white-lace path of the ferry's wake melts away to the dark jade of the sea and the lazy heaves and sighs of seals that drowse on that far point's mat of stranded dulse - all these set the pace of this island's heart; the singing summer-rhythm of its pulse.
It was a ritual of love: his wooden pipe held tenderly in one pale hand, he scoured with a bristled tool, screwing with gentleness into the bowl - five turns. As he tapped the rim into the hollow of his palm, his fingers were smutted with fine ash; the ghost of times before. He would happily have sucked on its emptiness, savouring the taste of singed briar, but the filling of it was part of the love affair - sensual, unhurried: pinches of brown shreds tamped in, the scratch and flare of a match, the agile flame sucked down, released, sucked down by the pop-pop of his wet lips on the stem, till the bowl glowed then - the small ecstasy of breathed smoked that melted in the bar of sunlight above his chair. After he was gone, his jackets scented the dark air of the wardrobe with the memory of smoke; to smell it was to resurrect my grandfather.
Pearls lie like drops of milk caught in satin, their coffin-box a softness and a swagged prison far from the beat of the ocean and its green depths; far from the gape-mouthed oysters that itched them into being. Her red nails blaze vulgar against their subtlety, as she lifts them, sets them against a neck as pale as they. Perhaps the thrum of veins in her throat will echo, for them, that far, long-ago green pulse of the sea.