I’ve always wanted to connect to people. I wanted to transcend beyond cultural norms and barriers. When I was younger I just, I just did not understand why things are how they are and “why are you making me do this?” and “this, this is a trap.” I wanted to understand a bit more about what this is all about. I used to go cycling every day and just have a like dopamine fix, meet people and that was that was satisfying but it’s almost like this work does that now.
Spare Tyre has done a good job in umm making me feel confident within… within the details of my practice for best quality; so where to keep my boundaries, where to keep the limits. It’s all to do with working with the subtle details and… not forcing a change. So with Spare Tyre recently I have been working a lot with umm people with dementia. So that involves umm touring around care homes and setting up shows. Umm and we’ve also been adapting umm, it’s called The Garden, and we’ve been adapting it for people with learning disabilities as well. Adults and umm we did a pilot recently umm and that was very successful and really fun and beautiful.
I found that the biggest thing that with people with dementia you are working with people whose body language, maybe their demeanour, tends to be inward and there’s umm this inwardness which you are trying to tickle open like an oyster shell. Umm so that in itself is err a very integral part of the dementia with- of The Garden with dementia, and that’s hard work. People with learn- adults with learning disabilities, they’re almost already, already open. They’re already inhibited but it’s this umm learned self helplessness which some people have developed over the way that they have been treated and how society has treated them and their own coping mechanisms that they’ve developed and so it’s interesting and also as we were doing the show we were seeing patterns umm like… some... it it’s very much to do with learning a lot of people say with moderate learning disabilities they’d catch onto a pattern and then go “oh yes I can do this, this is what I can do” umm whereas b- yeah. And it’s a very different ball game because people with dementia they’ve umm, they’re losing abilities. The disease makes them lose their abilities and people with learning disabilities have been born, most of them, this way. So it’s just a completely different ball game. Very delightful umm but they are completely different structures so the the The Garden with dementia is umm it’s umm, it’s more of an instillation and it’s meant to be haphazard and umm just have space in it for people to really play umm and to be able to be able to walk in and out if they want to.
We put a shift in peoples mood, showing them their, a different way of being that’s coming from them. Sort of giving permission because umm I mean it’s j- well sometimes you have to. It’s like people ask for permission but it’s a space where they can and we help them to explore their full range of their potential in safe way. People realise what what they can do and how fun it is to express and have fun as well.
The best thing about this work is seeing how it it affects people’s relationships towards each other in the group… and that is something that you could really hope for because affecting an individual’s mind and state of being leaks… that is that’s that’s the ultimate of what we’re after. I mean sometimes when you create groups or collectives that in itself can be a bit harmful because you’re you’re saying “this is how we should do it, this way, this way.” But I think to empower a person’s individual umm instincts umm… you know imagination is the, it’s just like the most umm yeah empowering liberating thing. I think that’s what society needs.
Yolande first joined Spare Tyre as an intern, working on projects including those based in Roehampton and Blue Skies. She has been a performer in our flagship show The Garden since it started in 2015. In 2018 she became one of our Associate Artists.
Yolande spoke to us about the process of adapting The Garden for a new audience of learning disabled adults, which we began in 2017.