Image shown: Memory is Grey © Gillian Cussen

Memory is Grey is based on Gillian Cussen’s experience as a person and as an artist facilitator with people who happen to have some form of memory loss (and their loved ones). The exhibition is running at County Hall in Cork from 4-22 November 2019.

Cussen has called the exhibition Memory is Grey because she thinks the idea of memory and its loss as being black or white (i.e. present or absent) is too simplistic and dehumanising. She thinks loss of memory is more complex and nuanced than is currently portrayed in society.

I attended a meeting recently on Art and Aging and one of the speakers was a man with Alzheimer’s disease. He told the audience that his life changed when he got his dementia diagnosis – “I went into the doctor’s room with my wife as a husband, father and respected work colleague and I came out as a client/patient with my carer”.’

Anne Basting, in her book Forget Memory, offers an alternative view of memory loss and advocates that  there is too much negativity and fear associated with memory loss in our culture and that we need  to adopt a more humane, accepting and compassionate approach to what is a human condition/disability. We are living longer and destined, in most cases, to eventually become ill and or possibly experience some memory loss, unless we are knocked down by the proverbial bus or die in our sleep. As Anne Basting argues, dementia is a human story “…not an unmitigated tragedy”.


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