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Creative Writing at Clermont Aged Care   A Ryde Aged Care Facility

Creative Writing - Jemma Seltzer

On April 23rd 2015 Clermont was visited by English Writer Gemma Seltzer, who had approached us via our website in relation to our Creative Writing Activity.

Gemma was visiting Australia doing research into writing with the elderly and was keen to visit Clermont to see what our approach was and what results we achieved.

Gemma is a writer for online, live and print platforms. She has presented her work in the UK and Europe, on BBC radio, and at festivals including Latitude and the Venice Biennale.
She has developed digital projects including fictional photoblog 5am London (2012-13) and Look up at the Sky (2011), exploring quiet, walking and writing in the city. 

Speak to Strangers (2009-13) was a five-year writing project that began life as a daily fiction blog and was later recrafted as a book. Originally one hundred word stories about random interactions with Londoners, the idea took new forms in Manchester, Birmingham, Devon and culminated at the Tate Modern (2011-13). 

A View from Here (2013), a set of stories written in public was commissioned by Jewish Book Week. This led to the Live Writing Series (2013-14), seven events which championed writing as performance.

This year, Gemma continues to work with older people as part of a writing residency with Age UK Bromley and Greenwich.

Gemma also was awarded a Winston Churchill Travel Fellowship to visit Australia and the USA. She'll be undertaking research into how writers can work with older people to make original, insightful, brilliant literature projects. 

Gemma has many years experience supporting writers as an arts professional and am an accredited coach with RD1st


The story below is from Gemma Seltzer's website recounting her experience at Clermont Aged Care. Click here to view the story.

Clermont Aged Care kindly hosted me for a morning. Two members of staff facilitated a session asking for memories of – and family stories about – wartime. Claremont provides a range of artistic opportunities for its older people, many organised following request from residents. The music therapist is award-winning, and the organisation partners with universities and bodies on research.

The regular writing sessions use reminiscence as a starting point, with the staff then working with the residents to form a series of short verses. This particular piece was to be performed at an ANZAC day event, as a song with musical accompaniment.

For me, these group sessions are also intriguing to see. When I run my own projects, I prefer to work one-to-one initially, then bring everyone together at the end. This reflects my personal style, but I acknowledge that it’s only possible with small groups and when I have ample time and freedom. For the staff at Clermont, who have worked long-term with many of the residents, and play creative, caring, and medical roles simultaneously, the group environment created was lively, engaging and purposeful. A fine achievement!

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