miércoles, 3 de abril de 2013

Murcia Tart travels to MoMA in New York

The research project, Art and Culture as Therapy against Alzheimers, returns to New York to take part in Practice & Progress: The MoMA Alzheimer’s Project Exchange, held at the Museum of Modern Art on April 15-16, 2013. This time our presentation includes the multi-sensorial project, Murcia Tart with Paco Torreblanca.

Other presenters on this topic include Lena Nordby of the Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology in Oslo, Norway; Yoko Hayashi of Arts Alive in Tokyo, Japan; Dawn Koceja of the Milwaukee Public Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Jessica Sack of the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut; and a MoMA staff member.

Practice & Progress: The MoMA Alzheimer’s Project Exchange is an annual forum organized by MoMA and focuses on generating opportunities to think broadly and imaginatively about innovation in program content and delivery, and also to reflect specifically on program logistics, planning, and organization.

The two-day program will consist of panel discussions, experiential workshops in the Museum's galleries and studios, and smaller break-out sessions, and will cover such topics as interdisciplinary strategies for teaching with objects, innovative partnership models, and programmatic sustainability, among others. The aim is to provide numerous examples of ways of working with individuals with dementia that spawn meaningful interactions between individuals, art, ideas, and spaces so that participants can reflect.

domingo, 6 de febrero de 2011

miércoles, 22 de septiembre de 2010


"Murcia Tart" was presented to society on the International Day of Alzheimers (21st of September) in El Casino de Murcia, with a sweet red wine from the Bodegas del Rosario in Bullas.

lunes, 20 de septiembre de 2010


The word “art” has a wide meaning. It can be attributed to any human activity made with care and dedication, or any set of rules necessary to develop an activity in the best possible way. Within this context, one can talk about the “art of cuisine”, the creativity in preparing food that depends on each region’s culture and customs.
In the present workshop on confectionary, this art form has been used with the intention to work with memory through gastronomic tastes; tastes that bring back memories of lived events. This is how the patients’ families, participating in the workshop, recount the experience.
The families were given a questionnaire in which the majority quantified the workshop as “original”, “innovative”, “excellent”, and thus, it obtained a very positive assessment. In terms of the programme, what caught their attention the most and with enormous satisfaction, was, above all, the active participation of the patients when they were asked to carry out the recipes and their engagement in the activities. This demonstrated that they were not treated as mere onlookers but as active members of the team performing the different skills in the preparation of desserts.
Everyone found Torreblanca’s presence very pleasant. They appreciated his ever easy and friendly attitude and responses, showing both patience and professionalism.
Many of the jobs and occupations that the patients had fulfilled in the past - as chefs, housewives and bakers - proved to have a stimulating effect and evoked many autobiographical memories. They were brought to the surface in a spontaneous way, together with other feelings and attitudes like nostalgia, happiness and the ability to surpass oneself.
The families recognised an improvement in the patient’s state of mood during and after the workshop. When asked if they wanted to change anything, they did not suggest any constructive criticism or ideas for improvement, except to express a desire that the workshop could have spanned a longer period of time.
Finally, we would like to congratulate the family members for their interest and participation during the course of the workshop. We do recognise and admire their patience and involvement in caring for the patient who follows a multidisciplinary treatment in our unit.

Gema Reinante Mariscal, Clinic Psychologist.


One of the most interesting experiences I have had lately was the Meeting on Non-Pharmacological Therapies against the Alzheimers. It took place in Salamanca, at the State Reference Centre (CRE) dedicated to this illness. Experts from around the world attended this meeting and presented a vision of their works. New paths are opening by using the arts – literature, theatre, music etc. – as ways of expression for patients with dementia. They are different forms of therapy from the ones based on language and memory that affect Alzheimer’s patients the most.
One of the lecturers was Richard Taylor, an American psychologist, who holds a PhD. In the year 2001, he was diagnosed with Alzheimers. Richard is tall, white-haired, slow speaking, secure and clear; a charming man who thinks about his illness and keeps a diary, gives lectures and explains his side of what the illness means and “how it feels”. He has published a book, Alzheimer's From the Inside Out, where he recounts, “living with the symptoms of dementia. I am still here, although I have never gone.” He made a plea for us to qualify him, that we re-qualify him and never disqualify him. He wants his voice to be heard, that we provide him with human and social care “because that is the moral thing to do”. He affirms that “we cannot depend only on medicine, still the cure has not arrived” and that “the medical team classifies us as ‘people with dementia’ but all this is very limited. We are there/here, ALWAYS.”
This extraordinary experience made me even more conscious that we are on the right track; that Murcia is leading the way in qualitative research in non-pharmacological therapies. With this “sweet work” we are introducing here, we are “re-qualifying” our patients. We are not merely observing the parts of their brains that are affected by the illness (that of course we treat) but the parts that are not, and these are what we are strengthening. When someone starts to loose the memory, one is left with many more memories. One is left with a rich set of emotional connections that foster all our memories from the time we are born and that shape the enormous richness in our brain, and the self-awareness of every human being.
The Murcia artist and poet, Ramón Gaya, whose centenary anniversary is celebrated this year, stated: “The arts are a carnal thing”. I believe it is true. The arts, in all its manifestations, and gastronomy is one of them, is deeply rooted in our nature. It has become genetic, it is carnal. From the scientific point of view, I assure you that this is marked in our brain and it is an extraordinary tool for therapy, as we are demonstrating in our research.

Carmen Antúnez Almagro
Directress of the Dementia Unit at the University Hospital “Virgen de la Arrixaca”, Murcia


With this third workshop Art and Culture as Therapy, the debate on Alzheimers is opened up towards experiments within the research where the art of cuisine, sweet cuisine in particular, joins the scientific investigation. The sense of taste is extremely complex. Here receptors of taste, sight, touch, smell and hearing all participate together. This is a result of a complete sensorial perception that incorporates the notion of memory and social, cultural and even religious influences.
Sweet cuisine can stimulate emotions and evoke memories of lived experiences whether they are happy, pleasant, sad, lively or even of anger. It is not only people who awake memories, the fragrance of a lemon or the sound of a nutshell breaking can have an equal effect.
Within this context, the pastry chef, Paco Torreblanca stirred up memories of happy moments and good company. Offering the patients desserts that belong to our collective memory, of family gatherings and celebrations. While enjoying the tastes of “sablé bretón” with Angel hair squash and cinnamon, “mille-feuille” puff pastry, meringue and cinnamon, chocolate bonbons of flower tea, and Panettone, the patients’ palates danced between sensations of sweetness, sourness and bitterness, listening to the sound of the biscuits and feeling the texture of the sponge cake. “Don’t be afraid,” exclaimed the pastry chef, “break the Panettone with your hands and eat the piece you like. The Panettone is not cut with a knife!”
In Torreblanca’s words, “the dessert is the pinnacle of the meal”:

“One of the things I have learnt is that the bakery must evolve. We have to look for new paths, experiment with new products from whatever country in the world without, of course, forgetting our gastronomic roots.
I use to say to those who are working with me that the dessert is the pinnacle of the meal. It is as jewellery that enables us to have an unforgettable memory of good moments.
I have always been defined as a designer of desserts but for me, the most important thing is the taste, because of its richness and enormous diversity. This is, of course, without ruling out the aesthetics. Aesthetics is the perfect complement. We cannot forget that the appearance of the dessert is the first sensation we perceive. The dessert must affect us, surprise and touch our feelings.”
[Paco Torreblanca (2007): La Dulce Cocina. Ediciones Temas de hoy. Madrid]

In this workshop, in collaboration with Paco Torreblanca and his son, David, the sweet cuisine has helped the participants to stir up emotions that have brought them in contact with their feelings and lived experiences. The process ended with the elaboration of Murcia Tart, which managed to surprise and call on emotions and where familiar fragrances and tastes coexist with extraordinary textures and new compositions.
Together, the Torreblanca team and the Alzheimers patients have evolved pastry making in Murcia. They have offered a new recipe, Murcia Tart, which has been the fruit of the study: “Where do we come from?” and “Where are we going”?
The experience is all gathered together in this book, which pages are impregnated with the fragrances of the ingredients of Murcia Tart to help us to remember its flavours. This is reinforced in the recipe, printed on an edible paper and perfumed by lemon and cinnamon fragrances!
Additionally, the book presents the patients’ recipes of their desserts, transcribed with the help of the students at the Hotel Management School in Murcia. The aim is to keep the patients’ memories of the present and to create future memories for their children and grandchildren.

Halldóra Arnardóttir
PhD Art Historian and Coordinator of Art and Culture as Therapy.