Art, a breath of fresh air in nursing homes

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Dance, music, theater, visual arts… There are more and more initiatives to offer the elderly moments of escape and magic. Isolation of the elderly is a subject dear to my heart, our grandfathers and grandmothers are our memory and our wisdom. Without them, our society would not be the same. They can make you laugh or bring you to tears in seconds, and it’s a magical power unique to the older generation. They have a tenderness that we no longer have.

Malou, 99, is the perfect example. Wednesday February 24, at the Ehpad La Cerisaie, in Chambéry, in Savoie, she talks about, via Zoom, her first job, that of a parachute cloth weaver, in Lyon. She was 16 years old.

She shows her weaving gestures to a troupe of dancers who will resume them later. This transmission is one of the intergenerational workshops offered around the memory of the body by Alexandre Roccoli, choreographer and it is programmed in around ten nursing homes. “These actions feed my shows and allow these people to rediscover an imaginary of the body,” he underlines. Reconstructing with them a past that we forget, in particular that of the working class, through gestures such as weaving or feeding animals on the farm, is fundamental. Dance is a major art which must mend these ancient movements in the bodies of others. “From one nursing home to another, Alexandre Roccoli is also making a Web documentary, co-signed with Catherine Vilpoux.

Because Covid 19 has made the situation of our seniors worse, many artists are coming to their aid. Whether it is dance, theater or street art workshops, art brings a little magic to the daily life of our elders.

And the benefits are obvious in the majority of cases. What if end-of-life places simply became places of just life?

Last March, Les Jardins de Matisse (76), an establishment for dependent elderly people celebrated its 10th anniversary. To celebrate, the management came up with an original idea: to offer its residents the opportunity to graffiti the walls of the establishment.

To do this, Jean-Marc VENARD, director of the EHPAD contacted Ecloz, an artist recognized worldwide for his urban works. “The initial project was to create two monumental frescoes in the entrance hall. Faced with the enthusiasm of the 104 residents, initiation workshops were organized around this achievement. “

Art therapy is often used in nursing homes, but this discovery of street art is an unprecedented initiative in France. And I find that wonderful! Transversal and intergenerational initiatives are always beneficial.

Thus, for almost a week, residents tagged, drawn and created a work of art. With materials and organic paint, Ecloz brought his knowledge of urban painting inside the building, and said: “the residents had the same recklessness as the children with the experience of increasing age ! “

A beautiful project, a real cultural and generational shock, the result of which is successful: two immense frescoes and nearly 10 canvases line the walls of the common spaces, like a nice memory of this moment of sharing. After this success, the initiative has attracted other healthcare establishments who have already contacted the artist.

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