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A Life More Ordinary

A Life More Ordinary project is led by artists Ian Beesley, Ian McMillan and Tony Husband. The project involves people with dementia and carers of people with dementia, documenting what it means to live with the disease using photography, poetry and drawings.

'A Life More Ordinary' is an Economic and Social Research Council funded project linked to IDEAL and is headed by Professor Linda Clare at the University of Exeter and is funded by a Knowledge Exchange grant by the Economic and Social Research Council [ESRC/ES/M50046X/1].


Here is a short video discussing the Banners for Hope and Change element of the project with Ian Beesely and Tony Husband and how it is having impact in the real world.

  • To create a series of arts-based activities and outputs which provide a positive but realistic portrayal of the experience and impact of living with dementia.
  • Through collaboration with people who have dementia, carers, relatives and other supporters, to explore and disseminate the ways people have found of coping with, and living well with, dementia.
  • To generate greater understanding of the representation and misrepresentation of dementia, both past and present.
  • To establish a royalty-free archive of images relating to living well with dementia, including photographs, drawings, and cartoons, and supplemented by poems, songs and quotations, for use by relevant organisations.
  • Ian Beesley, Ian McMillan and Tony Husband will conduct a series of thematically-led workshops for people with dementia and carers, who will include IDEAL participants
  • We will produce a series of chapbooks. The books will illustrate particular aspects of everyday coping with dementia which emerge as important through the IDEAL findings and in the interactions between the artists and participants during the workshops. Chapbooks are small publications, normally A5 in size and they feature illustration and photographs, narrative text and poems. Historically they contained tales of popular heroes, legend and folklore, jests, and other popular subjects.
  • Following the workshops we will develop a number of small exhibitions focused on living well with dementia. These will draw upon the findings from IDEAL and will present work produced during the project workshops.
  • We will develop an exhibition exploring how dementia has been represented in art and literature from the past to the present. It is hoped this will stimulate debate about current representations and about ways in which changing representations could influence the possibility of living well with dementia. The exhibition will be presented initially at the Thackray Medical Museum.
  • In the course of our work we will establish an archive of images that can be used free of charge by charities and other organizations to provide a positive yet realistic portrayal of the experience of living with dementia and of the potential for living well with dementia. The selection of images will be informed by findings from the IDEAL study.