Making a Mark - Art as a Therapy for Parkinson's| 21mins
Director: Nancy Tingey | Producer: Jenny Wright
Focus Years: 2009 | Country: Australia
To support her scientist husband Robert, who has Parkinson's disease, artist, curator and educator Nancy Tingey founded Painting with Parkinson's in Canberra, Australia in 1994. In 1996, she researched ways of using art as a therapy for Parkinson's on a Churchill Fellowship. These overseas studies formed the basis of a specialist program Nancy devised addressing Parkinson's symptoms and exploring ways of overcoming them to facilitate creative expression.
A typical Painting with Parkinson's session begins with meditation exercises to reduce stress, then prompts and triggers to initiate movement, one mark leading to another, followed by uninterrupted time in which participants focus on their art activities with remarkable tenacity and concentration. Tremors die down and depression is alleviated.
Peaceful surroundings, good quality materials and respectful facilitators stimulate moving and intense works showing that given the right help and enough time people with Parkinson's can be as creative as anyone else.
Filmed about ten years ago, "Making a Mark" was made as a teaching video to help form other groups. However, Painting with Parkinsons, now entering its 20th year, remains the role model in Australia and overseas. Each week about a dozen participants with Parkinson's meet in a building designed for special needs at the Australian National Botanic Gardens. Exhibitions are held regularly in various venues to help raise awareness about Parkinson's.
Now that his Parkinson's is very advanced after 26 years, Robert Tingey is severely disabled and no longer able to sign his name. Mark-making in his paintings is the one 'can do' activity through which he can recover his identity and sense of self.
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