Lady Frederick Windsor opens the London Art Biennale

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A virtual reality digital art installation which gives viewers a unique insight into the mind of an artist who suffers daily with the aftereffects of oral cancer and vascular dementia has been unveiled for the first time at one of London’s most prestigious art exhibitions.

‘Life is Beautiful. Always.’ by artist Marcel Schreur was unveiled at the 2019 London Art Biennale, a celebration of 120 contemporary artists from 40 nations at Chelsea Old Town Hall on The Kings Road, which was officially opened by Lady Frederick Windsor and runs until 26 May.

Age UK Kensington and Chelsea has been nominated as official charity partner by The Gagliardi Gallery, organisers of the event, due to the unique focus this year’s exhibition which aims to increase understanding of the mental and physical impact of vascular dementia. The event will raise funds to support the charity in delivering dementia support work in the community.

A two-time survivor of oral cancer – the impact of which led to vascular dementia – Marcel has collaborated with film and media specialists Dominic Green and Daniel Bacchus from Sheffield Hallam University to create the installation designed to inspire hope and understanding on the impact of the condition.

Age UK Kensington and Chelsea offers a multitude of dementia and memory loss services including a Specialist Dementia Advisor and dementia support team who provide support, advice and guidance for those living with dementia and their carers, whilst also working in partnerships towards developing a Dementia friendly Borough. It also runs bi-monthly memory cafes to enable social inclusion and support for those living with dementia who are particularly isolated in the community as well as a unique, 12 week ‘Exercise for the Mind’ programme.

Marcel comments on his hopes for the piece: “Those with dementia and mental health issues have so much to offer and teach us with regards to their experiences. I believe this VR piece is a valuable tool in helping medical professionals, family, carers and audiences gain some understanding of what it’s like to live with dementia and other major mental and health conditions. I hope it goes someway to inspiring dementia care and shaping our response to it. The motto of this piece is ultimately that; Life is beautiful. Always.”

Jess Millwood, Chief Executive of Age UK Kensington and Chelsea, adds: “We are delighted to partner with an enterprise as prestigious as the London Art Biennale. This week is Dementia Action week and we hope this partnership not only raises awareness of dementia but also helps to break down some of the stigma which sadly still surrounds this diagnosis.

“The numbers of people living with dementia are steadily increasing with an ageing population and it is vitally important that the right support is in place for people at a time when they need it most.”

To support Age UK and help the charity continue delivering dementia care in the community, visit https://www.ageuk.org.uk/kensingtonandchelsea/get-involved/donate/

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