Creativity, community and connections: Empowering people living with dementia through illustrative practice | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 7, Issue 1-2
  • ISSN: 2052-0204
  • E-ISSN:


Run Tomo is a sash relay race with people with dementia and others in their communities. From the North to the South of Japan, people run across the cities meeting others with dementia. Run Tomo actively connects people with dementia across Japan. The project challenges the stigma of dementia, showing what is possible with a diagnosis, both to the participants and the wider communities, making the cities more dementia-friendly and aware. In September and October 2019, Ellie ran with the individuals, inviting them to document their shared experiences by using The Photobook Project model. By selecting themes, participants of Run Tomo took photographs using single-use cameras. Mirroring the movement of the sash, being passed between participants, the cameras captured the smiles, places, movement, weather and challenges they encountered. The project captures the phenomenological experience of place: from the sweaty foreheads, to when hands meet, to the tender moments where people celebrate their athletic achievements. The Photobook Project features in a wider context of Ellie’s research about the role illustration plays in creating new channels of communication, methods of engagement and illumination of narrative for people living with dementia. This article asserts the power of illustration within a socially engaged context, in particular those living with dementia and their carers, making the case for experiential illustration as a tool for empowerment and connection.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Brown, Colette. ( 2017;), ‘ How art can alter the face of dementia. ’, TED, YouTube , 4 January, Accessed 28 February 2020.
  2. Cambridge Dictionary ( 2020a;), ‘ Illustration. ’, Cambridge Dictionary , 12 March, Accessed 6 March 2020.
  3. Cambridge Dictionary ( 2020b;), ‘ Illustrate. ’, Cambridge Dictionary , 12 March, Accessed 6 March 2020.
  4. Chronicle Live ( 2010;), ‘ Plastic cow cheers up Whitley Bay Care Home. ’, Chronicle Live , 7 November, Accessed 6 June 2016.
  5. James, Oliver. ( 2009), Contented Dementia: 24-hour Wraparound Care for Lifelong Well-Being, London:: Vermillon;.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Marshall, Mary. ( 2016), in-person interview, International Design School Leeds , 13 April.
  7. Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery ( 2015;), ‘ Background to the arts and minds project at Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery. ’, executive summary .
  8. Pollock, Ricky. ( 2016;), ‘ Designing better buildings for people with dementia. ’, lecture, Leeds , 13 April.
  9. Radiolab ( 2010;), ‘ The bus stop. ’, WNYC Studios , 23 March, Accessed 28 February 2020.
  10. Shaikh, Alanna. ( 2012;), ‘ How I’m preparing to get Alzheimer’s. ’, TED , 1 April, Accessed 3 March 2020.
  11. Robinson-Carter, Ellie. ( 2020;), ‘ Creativity, community and connections: Empowering people living with dementia through illustrative practice. ’, Journal of Illustration, 7:1&2, pp. 225240, doi:
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): communication; community; creative; dementia; empowering; illustration; memory; objects
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a success
Invalid data
An error occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error