Safe Haven client drawing on experience to rediscover his artistic side

Safe Haven has recently welcomed a new client through its doors with a colourful past, whose passion had faded somewhat in recent times due to his dementia but is now showing signs of a renaissance.

David Aldus is an artist from Brecon, in Wales. Born in 1941, much of his work depicts landscape scenes, many of which are of Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire and its surrounding countryside, but he is equally known for his maritime scenes.

He developed a realist style, influenced in part by French artist, Jules Bastien-Lepage, and the colourful primitivism of Cézanne.

At the height of his profession, David exhibited at prestigious venues such as the Mall Galleries, in London, as part of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters’ Annual Exhibition, Lambeth Palace, under the auspices of the Royal Society of Marine Artists, Westminster Central Hall, Royal Festival Hall, London Guildhall and his painting, ‘A Tribute To The People of Malta’, resides in the Museum of Malta, in Valletta.

In 1994, he was awarded the Acrylic Painting Prize, at Westminster Central Hall, in London, and the following year won the Oil Paintings Prize, at the UA Annual Exhibition, and had his work selected to be displayed at the Discerning Eye Exhibition by art critic, Edward Lucie-Smith, where one of his landscapes was purchased by the town of Brecon and presented to their twin town of Saline, in America.

During his illustrious career, David has completed commissions for the actor, David Jason, and ice skater, Christopher Dean. He was also commissioned to paint Britain’s first female black mayor, Lydia Simmons, and has also done work for the former President of Malta, Dr. Ugo Mifsud Bonnici, the Duchess of Devonshire, Lord Carrington, and musician, Jamiroquai.

When David first started attending Safe Haven, his family was very keen for him to socialise again with others. Unfortunately, like many people, he had become isolated due to his condition and the Covid-19 pandemic.

David has a big personality and loves to chat and showcase his humorous side. However, during his first couple of sessions, he was extremely hyperactive and almost over-excited about socialising again. Now that he has been with us for some weeks, he has settled in well to his new surroundings and has got used to attending the centre. He is still full of life, but much calmer and content.

David is such a comical person and has this natural ability to be able to lift the atmosphere and make people laugh. It’s a real pleasure to have him with us at Safe Haven, and he gets on so well with everyone.

As he had been such a renowned artist, his granddaughter, in particular, was really keen for us to try and re-introduce him to art. Since his dementia has progressed, he has shown no interest at all in the subject and his life-long passion had sadly completely faded away.

To whet David’s appetite, we started leaving paper and pencils lying around and, with a little bit of gentle encouragement, he started to sketch members of staff and some of the other clients. Obviously, the quality of work is not at the level of yesteryear, but this is all about him reconnecting with his creative and artistic side again.

Sometimes, the drawings that David is producing can look a little dark and somewhat confusing, which is how dementia must feel. Other times, they appear much lighter and cheerful in appearance, and you can easily see the resemblance to the person he is drawing. We feel that his emotions, anxiety, and frustrations brought on by his dementia are definitely portrayed in his current artwork and that being able to express how he is feeling must be so good for him.

This is just the beginning of David’s re-introduction to art, and we are all very hopeful that he will continue to enjoy his craft again.

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