Footprints in time

• Artist Jennifer Sulaj. Photo by Jenny D’Anger

JENNIFER SULAJ’S exhibition Lost Memory explores the way Alzheimer’s robs once-vibrant people of their precious memories.

The multimedia artist says working as an art therapist in a locked dementia ward in a nursing home was the catalyst for her works.

“I really wanted to do an exhibition about art and art therapy and how it connects to people with memory loss,” Sulaj says.

The classes ignited a small spark of memory for many of the dementia suffers, albeit in disjointed ways.

“One women talked about being in the war in a band, but it was all muddled up,” Sulaj says.

The classes were themed to trigger good memories.

“Something that related to their mothers, grandmothers, a daughter, their own life. Triggering memories that are pleasant.

“Because they are doing something and can see it, they are still in the current moment.”

The exhibition consists of dozens of “ghost” shoes, strewn across the vast upper gallery of the Pakenham Street Art Space in Fremantle.

They stand silently amid dozens of hands reaching upwards, many bent and twisted with age and arthritis.

From baby shoes to working boots, the footwear represents a lifetime of memories, Sulaj says.

“We walk everywhere; our feet are so powerful. We love shoes and they represent where we have been.

“The works are a visual interpretation of how varying levels of memory loss are experienced.”

Lost Memory is at PSAS gallery from March 16-April 7.

by Jenny D’Anger

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