Aynsley Moorhouse (MFA, MSW, RSW) is a Toronto-based artist and social worker specializing in aging, older age and memory loss. Aynsley has presented her work and lectured in university classrooms, hospitals, academic conferences, arts festivals and on CBC Radio challenging assumptions about aging, specifically regarding memory loss and dementia. Her particular interest lies in how engaging with the arts can lead to personal growth and social change, particularly in the field of gerontology.
Her artistic practice has been focused on exploring dementia and its effects on identity, relationships, and meaningful engagement. As Angelo Murreda of the University of Toronto wrote in response to The Sounds of Forgetting, her work is “a phenomenological effort to recreate the embodied process of a mind in the active process of remembering and forgetting.”
While completing her MSW over the last two years, she maintained her artistic practice as it involves improving the lives of older people. First, she is especially proud of her work as the assistant director and dramaturge on Cracked, New Light on Dementia, a new play that is the focus of a three-year study through Partnerships in Dementia Care and the University of Waterloo. Second, she has received international recognition for her most recent sound installation, Turning, a personal perspective on living with dementia. Third, she has been teaching drama and storytelling at the Bitove Wellness Academy, UHN's arts-based center for people with dementia.
In May she conducted a workshop, "The Benefits of Performing Arts Practices with Older Adults and People with Dementia," at the NICE Knowledge Exchange Conference in Toronto. Due to its success, she will be running a follow up workshop at the end of August. In addition, she has been asked to speak about her arts-based practices at the Canadian Academy of Geriatric Psychiatry conference in September, and at the Canadian Association of Gerontology conference in October.
Her blog (see below) is a document of her Ontario Arts Council funded theatre program at the Apotex Nursing Home at Baycrest. It is a weekly view into the project as it grew and developed from the first rehearsal in March 2012 to the final performance in August 2012.