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Contemporary visual art and identity construction - wellbeing amongst older people

  • Start date: 27 April 2009
  • End date: 31 October 2011

This study aims to understand how the lives of older people can be improved by examining their use of contemporary visual art for identity construction practices. Contemporary visual art is being used because its often contested nature gives it particular power to prompt people to engage in identity construction processes trough their imaginative and/or critical responses to it.

Older people are the focus as research carried out for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, has demonstrated that engagement with the arts declines in the 64+ age group.

The proposed research is a development of an exploratory study undertaken by the applicants which looked at older people's responses to the British Art Show 6. This suggested how responses, both positive and negative, allowed them to take control over how they were perceived by others and so distinguish themselves in various ways. This appeared, in the preliminary study, to contribute to their perceptions of wellness.