Dr Hannah Zeilig

Senior Research Fellow

London College of Fashion

Biography

In 2014 Zeilig was principal investigator on an AHRC funded project Mark Making a national review of the role and value of the arts for people living with a dementia. This involved wide engagement with PWD, staff and artists running participative arts groups. The project was collaborative and colleagues John Killick and Dr Chris Fox (consultant old age psychiatrist) offered invaluable guidance and support. The project website has extended the work beyond academic boundaries and attracted the interest of government bodies such as Skills for Care and public organisations such as the Royal Society for the Arts.

Zeilig has subsequently been invited to contribute to the Prime Minister’s Champion Group on dementia (reporting in March 2015) and become a fellow of the RSA.

Mark Making has already been widely disseminated at international conferences (at Linkoping University, Sweden, in Ireland at University of Galway) and throughout the UK (at the British Society for Gerontology and at the Open University).

Throughout 2014 Zeilig has been pursuing her interest in the cultural representation of age and ageing with the Cosmetic Science department at LCF. This has resulted in the project ‘Fine Lines’ in collaboration with Caroline Searing that investigates the language of cosmetic advertising (with a particular focus on cosmeceuticals) pre and post the introduction of botox. 

Research interests

How the arts and humanities can illuminate age and ageing, the insights that can be gleaned from inter-disciplinary research. 

Research statement

Zeilig has been an academic researcher in age and ageing since 1995. She is fascinated by the stories that we tell about age and ageing.

She worked at many centres of excellence, including the Oxford Institute on Ageing, The King’s Fund, the Institute of Gerontology, King’s College London (KCL). Working closely with Professor Anthea Tinker, at KCL Zeilig evaluated ‘age’ policy in Ireland surveyed housing for older people and analysed pension issues affecting women.

Prior to university based work Zeilig created theatre with people with dementia at the ‘Age Exchange’ centre in Blackheath, London. This work had a profound influence on her research career.

As senior research fellow at LCF, UAL, Zeilig curated a two-day event that provoked new questions in relation to age and the arts. ‘Mirror Mirror: Representations and Reflections on age and ageing’ took place in October 2013. It is a cross disciplinary, investigation of age and ageing through the humanities and the arts. A central aim will be to re-consider the category ‘age’ as well as the categories ‘fashion’ and ‘beauty’. Read the Guardian review of this event

She has worked to develop a way of educating care home staff who work with people who live with dementia. This important collaborative project is based at UEA. The multi-disciplinary team consists of a poet, a consultant old age psychiatrist, healthcare academics, dementia care staff and a care home provider. The aim of the development project is to use the arts as a means of educating the dementia care workforce. Zeilig continues to spend time regularly at a dementia care home with both the residents and staff, she feel privileged to be able to do so and know that this helps ground her research in the practical realities of living with a dementia.

As a direct follow-on from the internationally acclaimed Mirror Mirror conference Zeilig edited a special issue of Age Culture Humanities (peer-reviewed journal). This will feature artwork and academic papers exploring aspects of age, embodiment, clothing and identity (due to appear in Spring 2015).

Zeilig is an expert peer-reviewer for several key journals including ‘The Gerontologist’ and ‘International journal of Ageing and Later Life’ and she has also reviewed funding applications for Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

In 2015 Zeilig is looking forward to extending her explorations of the arts for people with dementia and to collaborating with colleagues both at UAL and externally.

Students

I have supervised the dissertation for a Masters (Birkbeck College) that explored older people in literature and also supervised two KCL students theses’ examining community care for older people and the representation of ageing in children’s literature.

I have acted as mentor for doctoral students at King’s College, London. My role was to be a critical advisor, helping students to refine their research questions and frame the theoretical underpinnings for their theses.

I am currently working with a UAL based student on her PhD proposal examining the embodied nature of age and ageing using textiles. 

Selected research outputs