Lancashire Not Forgotten is a heritage and arts project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, for people living with dementia and their relatives and carers. The project is a collaboration between Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Lancashire County Council, and Blackpool Borough Council.
At its heart is the evidence that a person living with dementia has a rich life experience that, if explored, recorded and shared, can not only help empower them, but potentially help us all to better understand the areas in which we live.
To help rekindle memories, the project used a wealth of heritage materials – everything from maps and photos to shuttles and saucepans – and set out to explore the three themes of how we used to live, work and play.
A full programme of reminiscence workshops and events took place across Lancashire – with sessions held in Burnley, Blackburn, Darwen, and Blackpool – to capture people’s valuable stories from the past. At many of the sessions, participants could combine chatting with trying their hand at a simple craft activity, such as making a tea light holder or doing some chunky weave. At every session, there were of course the essential tea and biscuits!
Three artists were commissioned to interpret people’s memories from these events and use them to create original artworks for sharing with the public.
In Blackburn, where visual artist Lyndsey Roe was looking at ‘how we used to live’, sessions were held at four heritage sites: the Cathedral, King George’s Hall, the Central Library and the Museum & Art Gallery.
Along the road in Darwen, people shared their memories at the Library, Derwent Hall, and the new Heritage Centre, Holker House. There was a particularly lively session at the Open Door Memory Café, where the afternoon finished with a good old-fashioned sing song accompanied by penny whistle!
Using people’s memories, Lyndsey has created two bespoke art books, for display in Blackburn Central Library and in Darwen Library. The project has also produced two new town trail maps, one for Blackburn and one for Darwen, each containing some of Lyndsey’s illustrations. The maps were developed with guidance from the Alzheimers Society and have been designed specifically to help people living with dementia enjoy their local heritage buildings.
Textile artist Morwenna Catt led sessions in Burnley, at the Library and the Mechanics, and in Padiham at Crosshills sheltered accommodation. She has used the many memories and images gathered from these events to create two pieces of artwork, which are being exhibited in a number of heritage locations.
Over in Blackpool, visual artist/maker Kate Eggleston-Wirtz created artwork for the historic Bispham annual Gala. Using memories gathered from people at Blackpool Library, Maddisons Café, All Hallows Church in Bispham – and not to mention a Blackpool heritage tram! - Kate created very different pieces of art. Along with a 6’ x 3’ banner for the Gala day, Kate designed six large wooden ‘icons’, including Blackpool Tower, a donkey and a bucket and spade. Both different types of artwork – but both equally fun!
The project’s film makers from Northern Heart Films and photographer Jonathan Bean came along to several of the sessions, recording additional valuable content for the project archive, much of which can be seen here. Pulling everything together was digital artist and illustrator Sarah Lippett, again commissioned specially for the project to design and create the website.
Along with its strong creative legacy, new artworks and town trail maps, Lancashire Not Forgotten has developed into a rich digital archive – audio recordings, films, photos and illustrations are now held at the Lancashire Archives service for researchers from the future.