Marenka Gabeler

My work is about my grandmother. She is 90 years old and suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.

I try to find every day activities that she can still do, to encourage her in a positive way, to counterbalance the effects of dementia. Some of the activities are meant to activate her memories, others are meant to keep her in the present, to make her feel independent and loved. For example, I ask her to sow up my cardigans with moth holes. Sowing is an activity she remembers and it gives her a sense of worth to help me.

Research findings are transformed into fine art works. They aim to reflect a sense of humanity within the context of a devastating illness.

One of the works that have come out of this investigation is The Fire Place, an installation that shows paintings, drawings and photographs arranged in and around an antique fire surround. When you look up close works take you away on a reverie to ponder on the loss of time and image.

I observe the effects Alzheimer’s has on my grandmother; the changes in character, the insecurities, aggression, moments of clarity and warmth, alternated with periods of emptiness, and silence. I imagine my grandmother’s soul inside my paintings.

My project focuses on processes of remembering: on how we forget and how we remember. I explore a poetry that is found in the attempts to retrieve memories. Memories are reconstructions of our lives. They are selective and change over time. There is no such thing as an objective memory. In the reconstruction of remembering someone we love, we unconsciously construct a whole fairytale of memories. We create and recreate.

After graduating from the RCA MA Painting (with distinction), projects have taken me on residencies in Japan, Syria, Majorca, Venice and Aldeburgh. Exhibiting internationally, my work is held in high profile collections such as Alison Jacques Gallery, Caldic Collection, and Torch Gallery, the Netherlands. I live and work in London.