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Arts student collaborates with her nan to help with her dementia

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

An interview with Madeleine and her nan

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.

Maddie art.jpg
The collaboration by Janice and Madeleine

“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.

  • Notes for editors

    Press enquiries please contact Chris Birkle, Public Relations Manager, on telephone +44 (0)115 848 2310, or via email.

    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) received the Queens Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2021 for cultural heritage science research. It is the second time that NTU has been bestowed the honour of receiving a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its research, the first being in 2015 for leading-edge research on the safety and security of global citizens.

    The Research Excellence Framework (2021) classed 83% of NTU’s research activity as either world-leading or internationally excellent. 86% of NTU’s research impact was assessed to be either world-leading or internationally excellent.

    NTU was awarded Outstanding Support for Students 2020 (Times Higher Education Awards). It was the University of the Year 2019 (Guardian University Awards, UK Social Mobility Awards), Modern University of the Year 2018 (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide) and University of the Year 2017 (Times Higher Education Awards).

    NTU is the 5th largest UK institution by student numbers, with over 33,000 students and more than 4,000 staff located across five campuses. It has an international student population of 4,000 and an NTU community representing around 160 countries.

    In the past 15 years, NTU has invested £450 million in tools, technology and facilities.

    NTU is in the UK’s top 10 for number of applications and ranked first for accepted offers (2019 UCAS UG acceptance data) It is also among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

    75% of NTU students go on to graduate-level employment or graduate-entry education / training within fifteen months of graduating (Guardian University Guide 2021).

    NTU is 4th globally (and 3rd in the UK) for sustainability in the 2021 UI Green Metric University World Rankings (out of more than 900 participating universities).

Published on 24 May 2022
  • Category: Press office; School of Art & Design