Works of 80-year-old who took pottery, art lessons as part of dementia therapy to be showcased in Ipoh

·2-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

IPOH, June 14 — It has been a wonderful life for 80-year-old Irene John @ Kanga Thavi.

Starting out as a nurse, she later travelled around the world working in hotels before returning to Ipoh in 2007.

Life however decided to throw a curve ball when she was diagnosed with dementia two years ago in January.

She initially signed up with at a dementia centre to learn how to deal with the situation and to slow down its progression.

Then her husband and caregiver Peter J. Bucher earned about the effects of music and art to stimulate her brain.

Now, twice a week, she attends pottery and art lessons, each lasting two and a half hours.

Bucher said he learned about music and art can help dementia patients during a talk organised by University of Tasmania.

“Thanks to a friend, he connected me with the teachers Alice Ng and Ng Sook Peng,” he said.

Speaking to Malay Mail, Bucher said Irene’s talent flourished under Alice and Sook Peng’s guidance.

To date, Irene has made 20 pottery pieces and 25 art pieces, with each work taking about three weeks to complete.

“Seeing her work, Alice suggested that we do an exhibition to showcase her work and as a form of recognition for her hard work,” he said.

Aptly named the Dancing with Dementia art festival, Irene’s works will be showcased at the event to be held at the Black House @ Port Ipoh, Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah from June 23 to 26 from 10am to 5pm.

There will also be a pottery workshop on June 24 and 26 from 10am to 12.30pm and creative art workshop on June 23 and 25 from 10am to 1.30pm.

It will be facilitated by Sook Peng and Alice respectively.

Bucher meanwhile is reaching out to any cafe that is willing to host dementia patients twice a month.

“The idea for such a cafe started in Europe 25 years ago where dementia patients and their caregivers can meet.”

“The cafe we are looking for ideally should have a nostalgic atmosphere and easy access. We can have activities at the cafe to create awareness on dementia.”

For details on the exhibition, Whatsapp Nardhirah (+60124280184) while cafes willing to work with Bucher can contact him via Whatsapp at +60195743572.

Asked how she felt two years ago when she was first diagnosed with dementia and how she feels now, Irene said she did ask herself then, why she was the only one in her family of 10 siblings affected by the condition.

“But now I am living my life to the fullest through pottery, painting, shell-collage and music.”

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