Art Therapy Stirs Dormant Memories in People With Dementia

Art has a multitude of benefits to the artists. One that unlocks the power of imagination and opens the mind to endless possibilities. Other than allowing one to express their creativity, art is reputed to be a very valuable form of creative activity for people living with dementia.  

Speaking to Irene, who is turning 80 years old in June, the Ipoh Echo team gained a better picture of the role of art therapy in dementia. 

Although  not a cure for dementia, she shared that art therapy has been a great help and inspires her to move forward in a positive light.  


Irene opens the chapter on ‘change for a better life’ when she began the art journey and attends her pottery class every Tuesday. For someone with no former knowledge of clay art, she has managed to acquaint herself with all the ins and outs of clay. 

“It wasn’t easy for me and I would feel ashamed when the artwork didn’t turn out well. But my teacher, Ng Sook Peng, would tell me that she will always be here to teach if I need her help, which I do with my countless phone calls to seek guidance,” she shared.

Irene told us that you will never know if you have a knack for something until you make an attempt to try it. Completing her artworks gives her a sense of accomplishment and purpose. She enjoys the process of sculpting, an absorbing activity that has helped keep her stress at bay and promotes a better recollection of memory. 

“One morning, I started singing a childhood church song, ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ out of the blue. I hadn’t touched that side of my life for a while already but the art sessions really paid off because it helps me remember things better, even the long dormant song lyrics. 

“Art therapy is very stimulating in terms of helping the brain stay active. Therapy is like an exercise for the brain, to keep it in check, so you won’t slack. I have also become very emotional but every time I have a certain emotion, I’d look up to Christine Byden, an author who is also going through dementia. The book is like a bible to me,” she explained. 

Mosquito coil holder

She said art takes a lot of patience. Even if things go wrong, that’s OK, we start again. “If you want to create a beautiful piece of art, you need to learn and understand that the sculpture will only turn itself beautiful when you are having beautiful thoughts. In art, it’s important to have a calm nature.” 

Along her pottery adventure, Irene has created various pieces of sculpture, including a teapot, a saucer plate, mosquito coil holder and many more. She is very proud of all her creations and is looking forward to displaying them at art spaces. 

Pottery is an avenue not only to express ourselves but also helps us focus on different parts of life as well as a medium to connect us with nature. 

In conjunction with Irene’s 80th Birthday Celebration and to create awareness for art and music as dementia therapy, an art exhibition, ‘Dancing With Dementia’ is hosted by PORT (People of Remarkable Talent) from June 23 till 26 at 10am to 5pm. 

There is also a sing along matinee session at 2.30pm till 4.30pm after the lunch break. 

Gisele Soo

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