Not even Dementia can stop beautiful art… Here’s how to bring out the best in every mind!

Tucked in the corner of Singapore’s east side, Apex Harmony Lodge (AHL) isn’t an ordinary nursing home. The guests aren’t left within their walls – one would see them out in the lush courtyards, where they revel in the peace and calm that is Mother Nature’s specialty.

With the beautiful gardens in mind, AHL set out to bring the vibrancy of the flora and fauna onto the piano design. While elders assisted in painting, students from Hwa Chong Institution helped them overcome challenges with dementia. Together, students and elders alike collaborated no matter the level of cognitive ability.

What was impressive about the staff of AHL was not only their own hands-on and can-do attitude, but that they really had a huge heart for each and everyone resident staying the home. They wanted to ensure that the piano would be ready, prepped properly to ensure the best decorating experience for their residents.

Here they are prepping and sanding the piano themselves!

It was a special request by AHL to be able include all their 150 elders staying at the home to ensure that everyone has a chance to participate and be included such that no one is left behind. That’s a lot of people to decorate one piano!

With such an inclusive spirit and gung-ho attitude, it was left up to Artist Karen Mitchell who worked with the resident art therapists to derive an all-inclusive artwork.

To engage each and every participant, residents were first assessed to see how they were capable to fulfill their potential. As art therapist Jeanette Chan shares,

“Different elders were involved in this creative process by leveraging on their strengths… some of the less mobile elders contributed their thumbprints with the help of the students.”

The more mobile ones, meanwhile, were given more responsibilities such as cutting and pasting the artworks on the piano.

AND THE END RESULT IS JUST STUNNING! The thumbprints and handprints were used so creatively to produce a glorious texture, vibrant, homely and welcoming.

Placed at Pasir Ris Drive 440, this piano was an instant hit and even went quite viral on our social media platforms!

And when all the artwork were done, what was once a faded second-hand piano became a one of a kind tribute to Eden. The elders’ thumbprints became a cornucopia of colour on the cover, while flower pots full of handmade flower cutouts filled the board. The Garden Piano certainly represented the pastoral living that AHL strives to provide.

To end off, we did a short interview with the Garden Piano for our “PIANOS OF SINGAPORE: If Pianos Could Talk” Series, a tongue-in-cheek look at the lives of these pianos!

“I don’t think I’m one of those green conscious types, but I might just get used to this look! Now, I’m no simple fixer-upper. With these concertos streaming out of me, I need to look elegant, yet down to earth. Give a nice, homely feel, but yet show that I can steal hearts with a nice Spanish tango.

“And you know how you get that gentle touch, y’know, make a piano like me look casually ravishing? Thumbprints! I can’t take credit for this, of course. It’s all thanks to the wonderful Karen Mitchell — she made me get in touch with my kiddy side.

And speaking of kids, I thought it was quite smart to get those Hwa Chong kids paired up with the nice old folks. They were creative, but more importantly they were patient. And can I just say… I love that the fingerprints of these good uncles and aunties are flower stems! So smart, so smart… now I look ready for a top-notch performer! Thanks, Apex!”

Apex Harmony Lodge (AHL) is the first purpose-built Lodge for Person with Dementia (PWD) in Singapore. It is a home away from home for residents since 1999. The Lodge also provides Day-care programmes. Find out more about how you can do your part by visiting http://www.apexharmony.org.sg/. (credit: AHL)

Apex Harmony Lodge is located at 10 Pasir Ris Walk, 518240.