It looks like an exhibition of colourful artwork, which it is.
But more importantly, the artworks hanging at The Gallery at Big Fat Smile are in fact the results of a unique project that uses art to illustrate children’s understanding of dementia.
Project DARE (Dementia knowledge, Art, Research and Education) was developed to raise awareness and understanding of dementia by primary school aged children and was recently run at Thirroul Public School.
The project is the brainchild of an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Wollongong (UOW) Global Challenges Program.
Project DARE chief investigator Pippa Burns said the unique method of delivery allowed children to express their knowledge and perception of dementia in a way that suits them.
‘’Younger children are often more able to express visually concepts that they may not have the words to convey verbally,’’ she said.
‘’The project allows children to discover and use their visual language to describe their understanding of dementia.
‘’Through analysis of the artwork, we hope to show how the children’s understanding of dementia changes before and after the educational intervention.
‘’Potentially, this program will help to reduce the stigma and social isolation that people with dementia often experience.’’
Project researchers designed and evaluated three lessons for Stage 2 children (Years 3 and 4).
Big Fat Smile chief creative officer Jennine Primmer praised the research team for the unique program.
‘’The Big Fat Smile artists loved being part of a project that sees the art making process as the measure for learning,’’ she said.
‘’It is just so affirming, in terms of what we advocate for and believe in.’’
The students’ artworks are exhibited at the Corrimal gallery until September 9, coinciding with Dementia Awareness Month.
The exhibition will travel to UOW’s Early Start Discovery Space in November.
Visit the Project Dare website for more details.