Moray artist’s interest in dementia inspires exhibition

Toni Harrower at Elgin Library where her exhibition is on display.
Toni Harrower at Elgin Library where her exhibition is on display.

A Moray artist has unveiled a series of paintings inspired by dementia sufferers’ battles to cope with the effects of the illness.

Toni Harrower, from Portgordon, became heavily involved in helping a neighbour with the condition as a child.

Since then, the 26-year-old’s interest in the condition and the different ways of dealing with it have grown.

Now dementia has inspired her first solo exhibition, entitled The Real and the Remembered, which opened at Elgin Library at the weekend.

The gallery features a central painting, designed to represent the patient, surrounded by colourful structures symbolising influences from family, friends and medical professionals.

Miss Harrower revealed the results of her work can often be a surprise to herself.

She said: “I use a colour-coded alphabet in my work where every letter symbolises a colour, which will dictate the pallet I use.

“So when I decide the title of the work, I’m not always aware of what it will look like at the end.

“It makes a bit more interesting for me, some of it is by chance, and it takes it back to memory loss as well because quite often they don’t have control.

“We had a neighbour who had dementia when I was young. I didn’t think anything of it at the time but my interest has always seemed to be there.”

Miss Harrower moved to the Moray Firth coast after graduating from Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen nearly two years ago.

The artist usually works on up to 15 paintings at a time, using geometric shapes and repeating patterns to develop a grid across the canvas.

Paint is then poured over the canvas, which gradually merges together with other colours as more and more layers are added.

Miss Harrower added: “The build-up of layers expressed the passing of time and gains depth with less control as more is added.

“In many ways, they relate to the uncontrollable events in left and several pieces imply the notion of the mind – and life – falling apart.”

The exhibition at Elgin Library runs until Friday, April 6.