Conversations (recordings from Where the Arts Belong), We Belong Together and Merkel 3rd Sector Care Award.

"The Markel awards recognise nationally significant projects and initiatives in the care sector, with many dealing with the subject of dementia. This year's awards were particularly poignant given the Covid context and our work was recognised as having a particularly innovative approach to engaging residents and staff during lockdown. Our host for the day, Angela Rippon, picked up the fact that I had used rubber bands in care homes to encourage making of sound and we chatted about the famous track by the Penguin Cafe Orchestra that also uses rubber bands.

In this context, it is hugely important for our Where the Arts Belongs project to win and be recognised nationally, as a true collaboration between artists including myself, Bluecoat and Belong. With our exhibition opening at Bluecoat, presenting some of the processes and findings of our research so far, as well as offering visitors provocations to think more about the issues, it is extra timely.

My contribution to the exhibition will be mainly a new LP of recordings made with isolated people during lockdown alongside Belong staff. Called 'Conversations', it has been beautifully designed by a recent Graphic Design graduate Aimee Elliott Demay and mastered by Michael Ward from our Music Department. In fact, Jo Hammill (Head of Graphic Design) added that "The project’s narrative and outcome contributed to Aimee's professional portfolio and unsurprisingly for us, she was quickly snapped up by a global design agency after graduating."

In this way, the whole project is very much about people working together in the here and now, artists, students, carers and those with dementia, pushing all our creative boundaries during incredibly challenging times, rather than focussing on the past too much."

Alan Dunn, March 2022