05:28am Friday 03 April 2020

Seeing dementia differently through eye of a lens

Professor Greenblat’s lecture, Arts, Hearts and Minds: Photography, Art and Music in Dementia Care, will discuss the potential of photography to change people’s views of dementia and the role of photography, music and art in the care of people with the condition.

The lecture is hosted by the NSW/ACT Dementia Training Study Centre at UOW.

Professor Greenblat’s Australian visit coincides with a national tour of her latest international photographic exhibition, Love, Loss and Laughter, from May to November. Brought to Australia by Alzheimer’s Australia, the exhibition features more than 100 photos of people living with dementia, including many from Australia. It aims to broaden understanding of the condition by challenging the stereotype that people with dementia are ‘lost’ or ‘no longer here’. The exhibition will be in Sydney at Parliament House from 7-27 November.

“My Wollongong lecture will review my photographic work and argue that while visual images can be very powerful learning tools, to date they have either not addressed dementia very much or have addressed it primarily in terms of the losses people experience,” Professor Greenblat said.

“With my photographs I’ve tried to give positive lessons about quality of life, despite memory and related challenges, and use them to help reduce fear and stigma surrounding dementia. While much documentary photography highlights bad practices in the hope of provoking change, I’ve chosen a different route,” she said.

“I have been showing photographs of life-affirming care that contributes to the maintenance of confidence, capacities and communication and also yields more moments of joy and connection. I am betting that change can be provoked through inspiring examples.

“I hope my photographs convey the message that acting more generously and optimistically with people with dementia is worth doing because we can make a real difference in the trajectory of their disease and in their quality of life. We can enable people who have dementia to fare well, without having to wait for magic bullets or technical fixes.”

Professor Greenblat has a personal connection to dementia, with both her maternal grandparents and her mother being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

In 2001 she left her tenured position as Professor of Sociology at Rutgers University, New Jersey, to pursue her dream of taking photographs related to ageing, dementia and end-of-life care to “open people’s eyes … to help them ‘face’ issues that are generally avoided’’.

The result has been international photographic exhibitions, numerous articles and presentations and two photography books, Alive with Alzheimer’s (2004) and Love, Loss, and Laughter (2012). The latter features photos from the exhibit accompanied by text from Professor Greenblat and 40 invited experts — including people living with dementia, nurses, doctors, social workers and music therapists — who offer advice on incorporating the lessons of the photos elsewhere.

Professor Greenblat is Professor Emerita of Sociology at Rutgers University and an honorary professor at Scotland’s Glasgow Caledonian University. Between 2004-2012 she was an Artist in Residence with the Centre for Memory Research and Resources at the university hospital network of Nice, France (CMRR du CHU) and a Visiting Research Fellow at the International Observatory on End of Life Care, Lancaster University, in the UK.

The NSW/ACT DTSC is one of five centres established by the Australian Department of Health and Ageing to improve education in the care of people with dementia.

Event details: Arts, Hearts and Minds: Photography, Art and Music in Dementia Care. Presented by Professor Cathy Greenblat.

Date: Thursday 30 May 2013, 6pm-7pm

Venue: Graduate School of Medicine, Lecture Theatre, Building 28, University of Wollongong.

Cost: Free

Register: Registration essential by Thursday 30 May, 12.30pm at:

http://dtsc.com.au/30may-2013-guest-lecture/ or 4221 5927.


For information about the Love, Loss and Laughter exhibition: http://Exhibition.fightdementia.org.au


More information about Cathy Greenblat is available at her website: http://www.lovelossandlaughter.com/


Media inquiries: Kerry Schelks, NSW/ACT DTSC; (02) 4221 5927, 0410 594 470; [email protected]

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