February 6, 2015
In 2011, my book ‘Chocolate Rain’ was published by Hawker Publications, UK. It has been received well and has steadily found its way into the hands of more and more relatives, carers and professionals who work with people with dementia.
Last month I received wonderful news, my book had sold out of the first printing and is being reprinted because it had been chosen along with 24 others as part of Reading Well’s Book Prescription list for Dementia! I went to the official launch while I was in London, met a few friends there, John Killick and Richard Hawkins to name two, and was inspired to learn more about this initiative.
Reading well is a health initiative of the Reading Agency, a non profit that encourages people to read more. Their Books on Subscription project is brilliant in its simplicity. They team up with libraries, health professionals, and health organisations to make self-help books on common health problems widely available through libraries.
At the launch I was most impressed by the transdisciplinary collaboration that makes this project possible. Reading Well’s Book prescription list for Dementia is actively promoted by the Society of Chief Librarians, partly sponsored by the Arts Council England, and works closely with health organisations like the Alzheimer Association. The combined efforts of all of these bodies make general health information, in this case information about dementia, low threshold and easily available to everyone through their local public library. Particularly cool, I find, is that doctors and other professionals (therapists, social workers, etc) can prescribe these books to their patients so that they can become more empowered by becoming informed about their-, or a relative’s condition.
Last year the books were available in 95% of all the libraries in the UK.
In its first year, the scheme reached 275,000 people with accredited self-help reading, helping people to understand and manage common mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Library issues of titles on the core book list have increased by 113% and around 7,000 health professionals are using the scheme on a regular basis to recommend books.
What it means for me and the other 24 authors, is that our books will get a huge boost in getting out to where they are needed. Last year’s book saw large sales increases as well, which is only good news to anyone who relies in part on royalties for their income.
My book is an activity/support for carers book, additionally there are books on Living well with dementia, including, ‘Dementia Positive’ by John Killick, Luath Press. In the category, Support for relatives and carers, Graham Stoke’s much lauded,’And still the music plays’, published by Hawker. And in Personal stories, ‘The little girl in the radiator: mum, Alzheimer’s and me’ by Martin Slevin, (Monday books).
‘Chocolate Rain’ is available at the many Dementia and Care congresses organised by Hawker publications in the UK. And on line from Book depository, Amazon uk, etc., and directly from Hawker publications.
February 2, 2015
My much loved aunt Evelyn died at the beginning of the month. I’ve written of her beautiful piano playing here.
I attended the funeral, and my cousin graciously offered me the now vacant apartment in London for my stay. My aunt and uncle owned 2 Vuillards which hung in the sun-filled living room. During the nearly 2 weeks I stayed at the flat helping go through my aunt’s things, I was able to be in the presence of these two paintings in all lights, and to study their surfaces closely – without a museum guard jumping up to tell me I was too close!
In a sad time, they gave me much joy. I read up on Vuillard while I was there and learned that he lived from about 1860 to 1940 and was a member of the Nabis or ‘prophets’. These artists, among them, Maurice Denis and Pierre Bonnard, were post-Impressionists, exploring new approaches to painting. They felt the Impressionists were too slavish to creating paintings to ‘charm the senses’. Additionally, the Nabi painters were striving to break through the restrictions of copying nature and were looking for ways to use more fantasy in their work.
Reading about Vuillard’s work and life gave me a lot of courage in my own journey as a painter. He and his contemporaries were dealing with similar dilemmas we modern artists confront. For example, Vuillard’s instinct was to paint intimate scenes on small canvases, while his contemporaries were striving to create grand works taking years to complete. Equally important was that in the late 1890s, the current idea was that large mural decoration was a higher form of art than easel painting!
So what I love about Vuillard is how he quietly went his own way despite considerable pressure from his friends, his group and the times he was living in. He admits in his letters that it was a struggle to keep to his own path, but he did.
After an inner crisis about his life and work, which was described as a conflict between his intellect and his artist’s sensitivity, and which was ongoing, he writes,
‘The only guide left to me was instinct, pleasure, satisfaction; the area in which I was quite certain of anything got smaller and smaller, all I could do was the simplest possible kind of work.’
‘The important thing was that I had a basis on which to go on painting pictures, this work brought results. It allowed me to put one or two ideas together in ways that didn’t too much violate my conviction that everything must be summoned forth from one’s own innermost being’.
-quoted from ‘Vuillard’, John Russell, Thames and Hudson, London 1971