FOR Catherine Barrett, a kiss is “the ultimate expression of love”.
So it comes as little surprise that the gesture will play a central role in a two-week campaign she is co-ordinating to raise dementia awareness.
LoveFest Perth will combine a one-day festival featuring presentations and workshops on the condition with a two-week “Kiss Exhibition” showing people with dementia smooching someone they love.
Dr Barrett said the portrait series was about humanising people living with the condition.
“The kiss means a lot – it’s the ultimate expression of love,” she said.
“The feedback on the portraits is that they are beautiful, with many saying they can’t tell which person in the photos has dementia.
“That’s the idea – you don’t see dementia, you see the person.”
Dr Barrett was struck by research which showed the stigma associated with dementia meant people with the disease are isolated after diagnosis – a time when support is needed to ensure they can continue doing the things they enjoy.
She said LoveFest was a way to draw attention to and initiate a discussion around the topic.
“We have to work in engaging ways to capture people’s attention because there’s so much information out there,” she said.
“LoveFest gives people permission to talk about things that are difficult.
“Let’s not focus on whether people with dementia love or feel but what we can do to build connections with family and communities.”
Garden City spokeswoman Clare Riley said hosting the exhibition was another step forward in supporting those living with dementia.
“This exhibit we hope will help educate our customers on the importance of love and human connection in the lives of people affected by dementia and hopefully have them thinking about their loved ones or friends who may be affected and reach out a loving hand,” she said.
Visit museumoflove.com.au/lovefestperth for information.
– LoveFest Perth –
The Kiss Exhibition:
Held at Garden City Shopping Centre from May 2 – 16.
The portrait series humanises people living with dementia and communicates the importance of love in their lives.
If you would like to feature in the exhibition, visit museumoflove.com.au/lovefestperth before April 26.
Held at the City of Melville Civic Centre from May 3.
A day-long festival with presentations and workshops highlighting the importance of human connection, the challenges of dementia and strategies to address them.
If you cannot make the exhibition you can still share a photograph of a person with dementia doing something they love.
The photos will be included in a resource from LoveFest and on a webpage called The Mirror, which reflects back positive images of people with dementia.