Do you remember?

In spring 2018, MoDiP delivered two outreach sessions for Bendoncare, a registered charity focusing on improving the quality of life for older people through their care homes, close care facilities, and social clubs across the South of England.  We visited Winton Friendship Club at Winton YMCA and Haviland Springers Club at St Georges Wellspring Centre, Boscombe.

Each session started with a welcome and an introduction to MoDiP and the collection, and then had an overall theme of ‘Do You Remember’ using artefacts from the handling collection.

In order to actively engage participants, the session was arranged into short activities that allowed involvement from everyone within the group. The session began with the use of a blue constellation / celestial globe money box, as an aid for participants to share where they were born, the MoDiP Engagement Officer started by saying where she was born, Northampton. This revealed that some participants had lived all their lives in one place and others had lived in more than one location.

 

Blue globe

To evoke memories, everyone was asked to think about a plastic object which they had used in the past or present and then write it down on a piece of paper. The pieces of paper were then collected up and placed into a plastic bowl then randomly selected and read aloud. Participants were asked who wrote the word down. In some cases more than one participant wrote the same word. Participants were encouraged to share why they had thought of that specific object made of plastics and what it meant to them. It was fascinating to hear different stories about the same object. It revealed how these objects contain meaning and relate to participants remembering positive experiences from their past – which could be parallel or have a link to the way the brain processes emotional content.

The session then moved on to ‘guess the object’. This required the use of one artefact from the handling collection, a different one for each session, which was placed into a drawstring bag. The bag was passed around to the participants who were asked to feel the artefact from the outside of the bag, without looking inside. This required participants to use their sense of touch to make a connection with the object. Participants were asked to keep their guesses to themselves until everyone had had their turn. Then a summary of the guesses was shared with the whole group before revealing what the object was. Many participants were able to identify the object.

 

Hairdryer

This activity demonstrated that objects are not solely recognisable by vision, as humans we are able to recognise familiar three-dimensional objects through touch. During touch you are exploring the shape, texture and weight of an object which you do not get from exploring by vision alone. Using touch activates both the cutaneous and the kinaesthetic senses.

The next part of the session involved the participants passing around a variety of objects from the handling collection.  This generated conservations between the participants about experiences which had happened in the past. Some of the objects used included soap boxes, a Crabtree Lincoln Bakelite light switch, Ormond electric hairdryer, Tupperware box, Kodak Brownie 127 camera, butter dish, tobacco pot and squeezy red tomato sauce bottle. To complement the objects, visuals including advertisements for Tupperware, Tupperware parties, Kodax and Ormond electric hairdryer were sent round to recall memories and create conversation.

 

The session concluded with an evaluation asking participants what they got out of the session with MoDiP, which objects reminded them of something, and any other comments they wished to make.

Comments included:

  • Memories of years ago.
  • Tobacco jar of my grandfather smoking a pipe and the smell of Tobacco.
  • Great fun
  • Bringing back memories of childhood
  • Reminder of some old plastics and Bakelite objects
  • Memories of past. Back to my childhood
  • Shaving brush. Teaching my boys to shave for the first time
  • Well presented session!!
  • Bronwie Box camera, pictures of black and white of family
  • Old camera my dad used to use
  • Good memories
  • I am glad there is still plastic what would you do without it. One of the best inventions!
  • Found the session really interesting. Made me think of things I used to use.
  • Light switch took me back to my childhood
  • Memories from years ago
  • Memories of yesterday
  • My husband had soap dish which he kept first aid kit in when we went on holiday

During the visit to Haviland Springers Club we had the opportunity to engage and listen to participants about the benefits of attending social groups. One particular participant spoke about how ‘memories and talking about the past stay with you and you don’t forget them, even if you don’t remember what you did the day before.’ They also went on to talk about the fact that the group offers a way of connecting with other old people today explaining that they didn’t go out much like the youth of today. ‘I didn’t go out last night or last weekend so have nothing to talk about which I have done recently, but can talk about the past.’

These sessions presented an example of using objects to connect people and encourage them to talk about their past. The project was the result of developing a new model for use by MoDiP as a distinctive learning resource that can be used both at the Museum or as an outreach session.