Dementia is a universal challenge and with an ageing population in the West it is one that more and more of our parents, our siblings, and ourselves will experience. By the time most people develop any symptoms of dementia, the underlying disease has been causing damage to their brain over a period of years.
My Father had the beginnings of Vascular Dementia but at a very low level which barely affected his daily life. Then shortly before his birthday he had a serious stroke that kept him in hospital for ten days. The bleeding was in the part of his brain that affects behaviour and personality and for a while there was some fairly dramatic deterioration. Offered the choice of him going into an unfamiliar rehabilitation unit or returning home with back-up support from the National Health Service (NHS) care service, it seemed clear that getting him back into his usual surroundings was best.
This series of images is a direct narrative of my Father’s experience of returning home. Far from being familiar, at first he recognised nothing. Then he began to feel that there was something he recognised about certain things but they were vague and he couldn’t quite make out what they were. He told me how he was seeing life distorted, unclear and somehow unknowable. These were dark and troubling times though followed a while after by my father’s sense of delight and wonderment at his surroundings; his beautiful house and garden.
I needed to both understand what he was experiencing and to come to terms with it as his daughter. In this case, my work has been a visceral response, with the goal of translating his condition into images that convey visually some of what he was experiencing in his head.
My father recovered almost totally at which point I was no unable to add to this body of work.