Self-healing Expressive Art Workshop

Partnering Organization

Art for All

Project Period

September 2013 to June 2015

Target Group

Elders with early dementia, their carers and the staff


Methodist Epworth Neighbourhood Elderly Centre, Chai Wan

About self-expressive art

Elders’ artistic and imaginative responses can remain strong for years after the onset of dementia. Quality art workshops can re-energise and inspire these elders, bringing joy to their lives and providing opportunities for quality time with their caregivers and loved ones.

How it works

In this project 36 self-expressive art sessions, including painting, life-sized self-portraits, ink collage, movement and photography, were conducted to encourage elders to reflect on their life stories, and then “narrate and create” their artwork.


Project components

  • 18 elders
  • 36 self-expressive art sessions
  • 3 train-the-trainers workshops for 15 staff
  • 2 training sessions for 20 family caregivers
  • 5 exhibitions to the public


To assess the impact of participation in self-expressive arts on the elderly, Dr Anna Hui of City University of Hong Kong conducted a study, collecting quantitative and qualitative data from the intervention and control groups.

The study revealed that active engagement in creative and artistic activities can help maintain the cognitive function of the intervention group, and sustained their creative abilities and personalities. Interviews with the caregivers also reflected positive outcomes in their daily lives.

Self-expressive art can:

  • Promote social, physical and mental engagement
  • Encourage expression and creativity
  • Elicit emotions and memories
  • Instil hope in both elders and their family members
  • Enhance family communication


“I am a housewife who enjoys eating and listening to news. As I’m physically immobile now, I do not have much chance to go outside. Therefore I feel really happy travelling to Stanley twice, once by myself and once joined the trip held by the centre. I learnt to play drums in the centre, and I felt very happy joining the drum performance.”

Yiu, 101 years old

“Monthly practice of creative arts was correlated with achievement and recognition, subjective wellbeing and overall elderly quality of life.”

Dr. Anna Hui, CityU, Principal investigator

“The elders’ energy/passion for life has redefined my perception of them, that they are not a helpless group. It has been my pleasure to know these lovely older brothers and sisters.”

Ruby, volunteer

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