Madeline Clements NTU Baird Photography

Arts student collaborates with her nan to help with her dementia

An art student who collaborates with her grandmother to help her cope with her dementia has made a public installation which features artwork they created together.

Madeleine Clements, 22, who has been providing art sessions for her nan Janice Birks, 80, has created an participatory installation for the 2022 Nottingham Trent University Student Showcase.

It will feature an acrylic painting on canvas which Janice created with Madeleine to express through colour the emotions she had been feeling.

The painting will feature alongside a pre-recorded video of an art therapy session by Madeleine which invites visitors to interact by creating paintings that can be added to the display.

Madeleine, who is studying BA Fine Art at the Nottingham School of Art & Design, said:

“My nan has never been an artist before, and until now didn’t know how to mix paints. But you would not think it when you look at her work – she is very good at painting, and we have worked on several drawings together as well.

“When we collaborate on a painting we think of different kinds of emotions and write down the colours that we relate to them. Of course, I think about how it’s going to work aesthetically when hung in a gallery setting however, the outcome is always successful as my nan has the chance to express her emotions through painting instead of verbally.

“Art has become a way for her to communicate with us and express her emotions, and she always feels full of joy afterwards. It helps with her condition, and I love making life easier for her. That’s the reason I do it – it’s all about helping her feel better.”

The 2022 Fine Art Student Showcase is open to the public in Nottingham Trent University’s Bonington Building, city campus, from 28 to 31 May and is free for the public to enter.

Janice, who lives in Aspley in Nottingham, said:

“It’s a very enjoyable experience, not like anything I have done before. It makes me feel proud.”

Madeleine, who lives in the city centre and works part-time in a care home to support her studies, now wants to pursue a career as an art therapist after she graduates.

Lisa Selby, Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University, said: “Maddie has created an installation which incorporates the collaborative work she has created with her grandmother.

“It shows how art can be used not only to create something aesthetically impressive, but how the collaborative process can be used to support people and make them feel good.”

Visit for more details about the 2022 Student Showcase.

Posted on 26 May 2022

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Jack Woolley