David Clegg was by far my favorite artist lecturer we’ve had to date, I wrote down 3 pages of notes because every project he did interested in. David Clegg’s pieces are very personal and deep, often having stories attached to them. In 2001 David met a woman with dementia called Shelia Hugo who was 87 years of age, David decided to piece together her life story however having dementia, she could only “remember bits” of her life. Her care notes said she was a depressed demented alcoholic, having nothing else to her. David set up a tape recorder and after encouraging her Shelia began to tell her life story, it turns out Shelia was the descendant of Victor Hugo who’s the writer of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. As their time went by, Shelia started coming out with some amazing memories, she was friends with famous actors and musicians, she dated lion tamers and even walked hand-in-hand with an infamous Acid Bath Murder. After 2 years of writing the book, it was finally finished and in honor of Shelia, he printed out all the pages and built a sculpture out of them which is placed in the corner of his living room. The book is called “Dust on the Rubber Tree”, I tried looking for it on online shops like Amazon and Ebay but no such luck which is a shame because I would of loved to of gave it a read. I really loved this story because it just goes to show that someone could look extremely dull and boring, yet have so many different life experiences, many stories to tell and have so much knowledge to share, stories like this really inspire me. Another story David Clegg told us which was very touching and heart breaking, he did a house visit for an elderly lady who too had dementia, the first time he went to see her he knocked on the door and she kept responding with “Be there in a minute!”, “Hang on!” and “Wont be long!”, after a few minutes she finally answered the door, however she was completely nude wearing only one Ski boot and an oven glove, she then claimed that someone time-traveled into her home, stole all her youthful clothes and replaced them with old woman’s clothes. After a few more visits David started bringing her flowers and after another few visits, the woman forgot how to put things into things (She forgot how to put flowers into a vase, she would lay them on their side on top of the vase) which was one of the most saddest things I have ever heard, as it sounds almost impossible that someone could forget that kind of function. David called these pieces “The Trebus Project” named after Edmund Trebus who’s a Polish War Veteran who filled his house with what people deemed rubbish, convinced that they will be useful at some point and in his own way, David became a hoarder himself expect with peoples fragmented memories. Davids art experiments became the largest archive of First Person Dementia Narratives in the world which is very impressive, I feel honored to of been part of his lecture as I found it extremely interesting and eye-opening – I hope to one day do a piece on a topic as sensitive as dementia.
This is a picture of David Clegg’s structure that he has in the corner of his living room: