"It's waking up something that maybe went to sleep." This is how one participant describes taking part in an art and dementia program run by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.
"I've never been artistic, but it inspires me to do something new," says Maria* - one of the more than 400,000 Australians living with dementia.
Now the museum has launched a new online art-making toolkit to help other people living with dementia. The resource, which offers artist-led creative activities, is based on the museum's onsite Artful: Art and Dementia program.
Key findings of the pilot research found that nearly all respondents (97.5 per cent) found the onsite Artful: Art and Dementia program helped improve quality of life and seven out of ten respondents found the program helped improve relationships.
The MCA's online art-making toolkit takes the key learnings from the art and dementia program, providing stimulating activities for people living with dementia who can't take part in the museum's onsite program.
It includes ten art-making activities inspired by works in the MCA collection, each complemented by step-by-step instructions, short instructional videos and warm-up questions to help start a conversation about the artwork.
MCA public engagement manager, Yaël Filipovic, said: 'Contemporary art is a powerful starting point for people living with dementia to engage and express themselves."
Brain and Mind Centre's Health Brain director, Professor Sharon Naismith, said the toolkit responds to the growing need for more creative resources within the health sector.
"I have witnessed a sparkle in the eye of many people living with dementia as they engaged in artmaking [at the MCA], enabling them to discover parts of their brain that have likely laid silent for some time."
The Artful: Art and Dementia program runs in six weekly two-hour visits to the MCA. The toolkit is available from mca.com.au for $60 or $200 for organisations.
*Not her real name