The Father - sketching with Willy

When Martin was planning to direct THE FATHER, he turned to his old friend and former colleague to draw the main publicity image.  WILLY GILDER is an accomplished artist but had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, as he explains here.

It has been a pleasure working with my old friend Martin Borley-Cox to produce sketches of cast members of The Father.

I have a personal interest in the play, having been diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer’s Disease three years ago.

Few people realise that there are different types of Alzheimer’s. Mine affects my brain’s parietal lobes, whereas the more common type starts in the hippocampus. So my memory is unaffected, but the disease at first destroyed my ability to draw - a skill I got back through listening to music.

Willy Gilder portraitjpg

Above: a self-portrait by Willy Gilder

Along with the lead character of  The Father my eyes play tricks on me: I see shapes and outlines generated within my brain, rather than by my eyes.

Dementia is a complex illness, affecting each individual in a different way.

Bruce Willis, who has Fronto Temporal Dementia, is best known for his series of  Die Hard films. Historically that’s been the narrative around dementia, but I want to suggest that as much as possible we need to change from Die Hard with dementia to Live Well with brain disease.

  • Watch on YouTube: See Willy at work on The Father poster image, and hear what he has to say about his own Alzheimer's diagnosis.

  • Find out more about THE FATHER, which is on tour between March and May 2024.