Walk With Me Book Collaboration

In the midst of 2020, not long after the world became upside down due to COVID-19, I met Deb and her close friend, Peter, at The George Farnham Gallery in Saxmundham. Following a brief introduction by Michael, the gallery owner, Deb soon became a connection on social media and began following my work. At the time, Deb had just become an author of a book titled “Slow Puncture”. This book was about her friend Peter and his challenges faced with early-onset dementia after being diagnosed at just 50 years old. Both Deb and Peter have formed a strong friendship through a love of cycling and, over time, Deb has been able to view her own life through the lens of Peter’s condition. 

“Slow Puncture” soon became a success for both Deb and Peter and at the start of 2021, there was talk of a follow-up.

When I looked at Daniel’s photos I was strangely moved; his images tugged at my soul, and this planted the seed of an idea for me. This, in turn, grew into a collaboration: Peter’s words and Daniel’s photography bound together by their shared love of Suffolk.

Over the last two years, Deb has been capturing many of Peter’s thoughts.  Dementia impacts Peter’s short-term memory. After Peter has uttered these words, they are shortly forgotten. This follow up book is a collection of Peter’s short musings which are almost poetical in their quality. Deb contacted me at the start of 2021 to discuss using some of my imagery of Suffolk to pair up with Peter’s words, and as soon as I read the initial scope, I was more than willing to get involved.  Peter has such a beautiful and delicate way with words, and just reading the first few examples that Deb sent me, I knew that this would be an important book for many – either for those living with or caring for someone with dementia.  There is a real sense of deep feeling in how Peter describes his life living with this condition. 

I couldn’t think of a better accompaniment to Peter’s words than these photographs of Suffolk. Suffolk is Peter’s home, where his heart is; the countryside brings his mind to life and stirs up old memories.

I had sent a couple of example images to Deb to see which ones might tie into the words. However, we needed to sit down with Peter to select imagery that made him feel something towards how he views the world. After a good chat, some carrot cake and coffee, we began looking through my collection of images.  Peter picked those that were a good fit for how he sees his world.

Emails were exchanged between myself and Deb, and the first draft arrived in my inbox late Summer/early Autumn. I then got onto turning this idea into something tangible. 

The book starts with an introduction from Deb talking about the last year since the release of “Slow Puncture” and leads in nicely to Peter’s thoughts.

Just reading the introduction alone, there was so much that I came to understand about dementia. As Peter mentions in his book, “life isn’t over with dementia, it’s just a little different”. 

I see Peter’s poetry as a gift: it symbolises so much more than the workings of his tired mind. It reflects trust, honesty and friendship. It is all of those things encapsulated in a few lines, generated by a weary mind.

Deb Bunt and Peter Berry Walk With Me Front Cover

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