Dementia and the arts to be explored through new group research project

05 April 2016

A group exploring dementia and the arts has been invited to take up the 2016-2018 residency in The Hub at Wellcome Collection, a flagship space and resource for interdisciplinary projects exploring health and wellbeing.

There are currently over 44 million people worldwide with dementia and this is predicted to increase to 75 million by 2030 and over 135 million by 2050. So far, there are no drug treatments that can cure the different progressive and degenerative brain diseases that come under the term dementia. The condition affects more than just memory, impacting upon more than one aspect of thinking, for example language, behaviour or visual processing. It eventually becomes sever enough to affect everyday life not only for the person with dementia, but also their relationships with family and friends and is becoming increasingly recognised as a priority for health and social care provision, as well as for research.

The group, which will bring together a rich network including scientists, artists, clinicians, public health experts and broadcasters, has been awarded £1million to develop the project over two years. It will examine and challenge perceptions of dementia through scientific and creative experimentation. 

Common (mis)conceptions of dementia will be challenged through integrated artistic and scientific investigation of less recognised symptoms associated with typical and rare dementias. The team hope to enrich our understanding of dementia by raising provocative questions about the healthy brain, our emotional reactions to change in ourselves and others, and the attributes by which we value and define humanity.

Paul Camic, Professor of Psychology and Public Health at the University’s Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology, is a member of the group. He said: "I feel really honoured to be part of the next Wellcome Hub on exploring dementia through the arts and science.

“The Hub allows a unique and unprecedented interdisciplinary approach to develop new ways of thinking about understanding dementia where the arts will play an essential and core part. I am particularly excited about this award because it allows scientists to work alongside artists, people with dementia, media professionals and others to re-examine our understanding of dementia and practices within dementia care.”

The Hub space at Wellcome Collection will provide a base for the group to perform rigorous, creative research and to stage scientific and artistic experiments, data-gathering and public events. The group will also have unique access to resources in Wellcome Collection, the Wellcome Trust and the Wellcome Library.

Sebastian Crutch, Project Director, said: "We are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring together people from so many different disciplines and backgrounds to engage in a practical and authentic piece of interdisciplinary research.  This project was spurred by hundreds of conversations with people living with different forms of dementia, and it is only by developing, deepening and broadening those conversations that we can achieve our goal of delivering novel toolkits, methodologies and ways of thinking to enable us to better understand and use the arts in dementia."

Simon Chaplin, Director of Culture and Society at Wellcome Trust, said: “We are delighted that Sebastian Crutch and his group will be able to build on the Hub’s reputation for pioneering interdisciplinary research connecting medicine, life and art in the heart of Wellcome Collection.”

Connected to the Hub, Canterbury Christ Church University will be co-sponsoring, with the Royal Society for Public Health and the Alzheimer's Society, the first international conference on the arts and dementia research next year (9-10 March 2017). If you are interested in submitting a paper for the conferenced please click here


Notes to editors

  • The group is led by Sebastian Crutch (Project Director; UCL Dementia Research Centre) and Caroline Evans (Project Manager) together with a core team comprising of Philip Ball (Science Writer), Paul Camic (Canterbury Christ Church University), Nick Fox (UCL Dementia Research Centre), Charlie Murphy (Visual Artist), Fergus Walsh (BBC Medical Correspondent), Julian West (Royal Academy of Music), and Gill Windle (Bangor University). They will work with a group of more than 60 individuals, charities and institutions working in, supporting and developing the field of dementia and the arts.


  • The group start their occupancy at Wellcome Collection in October 2016. They will be the second residents of the Hub, following Hubbub, a group exploring rest and busyness.

Canterbury Christ Church University

Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.

With 17,000 students across Kent and Medway, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional subject areas.

  • 95% of our UK undergraduates were in employment or further studies six months after completing their studies*.
  • We are one of the South East’s largest providers of education, training and skills leading to public service careers.

*2013/14 Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey



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Last edited: 14/12/2018 22:55:00