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In the Picture: A family’s experience of a gallery programme tailored for older people

Date posted: 23 February 2016

Image shown: Sheila Goggin and artist facilitator Sarah Ruttle enjoy a facilitated art discussion at West Cork Arts Centre

West Cork Arts Centre’s In the Picture programme offers opportunities for older people – living in residential settings or being cared for in their own homes in the West Cork area – to participate in bespoke facilitated experiences in the galleries. The programme, which began in spring 2015, is inspired by the ‘Meet me at MoMA’ programme at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, designed to give older people and people living with dementia an opportunity to participate in art and cultural venues. Eighty-nine-year old Bantry woman Sheila Goggin recently visited Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre to take part in the programme. 

Sheila said of her visit, ‘It was very good, we walked around and looked at all the art and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I do a bit of art myself and would like to do more of these types of visits.’

According to Sheila’s son Finbarr, ‘This visit and indeed the other artistic ventures that Sheila is involved in have made a remarkable difference to her life. Spending a great deal of time at home leads to boredom and feelings of isolation but when mam is out and about participating in art and other cultural activities, she is at her best. She comes home full of life and buzzing from the activity. The In the Picture programme involves meaningful participation and I can see a huge difference in mam when she returns from such activities. A day or so after the visit, mam drew a haunting picture of a tree blowing during a gale.’  (The featured image shows the source of this inspiration).

In the Picture is overseen by a committed group of local partners from the HSE, Cork Education & Training Board, West Cork Carers, Cork County Council, and West Cork Arts Centre who see at first hand the benefits that it brings to people in their communities. The programme delivers direct access to and participation in the West Cork Arts Centre’s exhibition programme and a sensitive space for conversational and sensory contribution. The discussions are facilitated by artists and gallery educators trained in dementia care and communication skills.

There is an unusual amount of ability available to people with dementia to connect with and appreciate art in all its forms, and also an ability to connect with their own creative selves; this is what In the Picture is offering people a chance to tap into. Our sessions are about making observations, describing and building connections. Allowing each person the time to comfortably observe and experience the space and artwork.’ – Sarah Cairns, activities co-ordinator at Bantry General Hospital

In the Picture is part of the Arts for Health Partnership Programme in West Cork. For further information contact Justine Foster, programme manager at West Cork Arts Centre, on 028 22090 or email
justine@westcorkartscentre.com

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