SS2017 will open at Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore on 16 October 2017. The exhibition is the outcome of a visual arts project called Stop and Sit undertaken by Anam Beo artists, Rowena Keaveny and Julie Spollen. SS2017 encapsulates the interactions and observations with participating staff at the hospital.
Julie Spollen outlines how the project developed:
Back in 2015 Anam Beo, the arts, health and wellbeing organisation in Offaly, and Orlagh Claffey, General Manager of Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore discussed possibilities of arts and health within the hospital community. The project Stop and Sit became an opportunity for interested staff to engage with an arts practice, not only to demonstrate the positive dynamics within the hospital but also with a view to learning how to navigate a participatory arts practice in a busy environment.
So how does arts, health and wellbeing fit within a hospital? Certain logistical fences must firstly be cared for and embraced: Staff are very much engaged with their job in hand and contemporary workloads did not allow for traditional facilitated art sessions. The project needed to engage staff participation on their terms, co-creating with the artists.
Using the artists’ skills and knowledge as arts practitioners, a convenient process was explored, on this occasion the use of a smart phone. App technology allowed quick to thumb arts participation en masse. The self portrait app in itself has become a potential tool for early diagnosis of certain diseases.
This project aimed to build a relationship within the hospital. An important part of the process was to engage with people, interact, communicate and have fun along the way. Staff were visited in agreed departments, during break times, on their terms and, via the route of the staff canteen, a wider hospital community knew we were on the premises if they wanted to be involved with the project.
Anam Beo interacted with up to 80 people. The project created awareness that you don’t have to be a naturally skilled drawer or portrait painter to be involved in a creative process or space.
The challenge is to ensure that a balance exists where people can meet, communicate … nurture the body and soul. We all have the capacity for individual creativity. It is up to contemporary society to embrace, consider and provide access to all possibilities for our health. Many thanks to staff at the hospital and all the team for advocating for the role of the arts in rehabilitation, recovery, care, daily living and for embracing and providing access to the positive possibilities for our communities in Offaly and the region.
SS2017 will be launched on Monday 16 October at 11am by Tony Fegan, Director of Tallaght Community Arts. The exhibition is located on South Hospital Street on the ground floor.
The larger artworks will be on view in the hospital until October 2018 and then in the departments that were involved in the project. Smaller portraits and images belong to the individuals and departments that participated.
Anam Beo is an arts, health and wellbeing organisation working throughout Offaly in partnership with Offaly County Council and Dublin Mid–Leinster HSE. This artist in residency project was a collaboration between Anam Beo, Offaly County Council Arts Office and Midlands Regional Hospital, Tullamore. Anam Beo promotes active arts inclusion though the delivery of comprehensive arts projects in care settings and encourages creativity and empowerment through meaningful engagement in the arts.