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Viriditas: Saolta Arts brings intimate vocal performances to patients’ bedsides

Date posted: 27 February 2020

Image shown: Viriditas, Ceara Conway and Anna Mullarkey, presented by Saolta Arts and Galway 2020. Photo credit: Julia Monard.

Saolta Arts and Galway 2020 present Viriditas by Ceara Conway as part of The Deepest Shade of Greenan Arts and Health programme for Galway’s European Capital of Culture 2020. Viriditas is an album composed by acclaimed Irish artist and singer Ceara Conway in response to an extended process of engagement at Galway University Hospitals.

Named after the Latin term meaning greening power and life force, Viriditas takes the listener on a journey through songs inspired by conversations with staff and patients, melding sound recordings of hospital equipment, plants, and the tools of sound healers. The album is available at saoltaarts.com

This February, songs from the album were previewed as a series of intimate performances for patients and their families in the wards of Galway University Hospitals.

Ceara, accompanied by Anna Mullarkey, sang to patients in eight units across University Hospital Galway and Merlin Park University Hospital including Stroke, Rehabilitation, Critical Care, Haemodialysis, and Care for the Elderly. Singing to busy day rooms and individual bedsides, their performances introduced birdsong and the sound of bees to the healthcare setting and audiences were gifted a limited edition CD of Viriditas after each performance.

I am always drawn to performing in specific sites and the experience of singing healing songs for patients, family and staff in the hospitals, for me, takes the intentionality of my work to a whole other level. It allows me to connect with people in a very real and intimate way. The practice of singing to sooth and heal is ancient, and whilst Viriditas is a contemporary work, it is rooted in tradition, and performing it in a hospital feels like it belongs in the space. The songs and voice in this space are offered up for the purposes of creating moments of joy, fun and poignancy and to bring patients and staff together in new ways, outside their normal daily routines and patterns.’
Ceara Conway

In her research for Viriditas, Ceara travelled to Georgia in September 2018 to learn traditional healing songs which she then shared with staff at Galway University Hospitals in participative singing workshops. Further workshops are planned for staff at Portiuncula University Hospital and Roscommon University Hospital in March 2020. The artist also consulted patients and staff from diverse disciplines encompassing nurses, doctors, porters, engineers, choir members, and bereavement and pastoral support.

Viriditas is part of Saolta Arts’ wider programme The Deepest Shade of Green where nature and familiar landscapes of the West are brought into the wards, corridors, and waiting rooms of Saolta’s hospitals and used to imaginatively escape the clinical environment.

Ceara Conway
Ceara Conway is an Irish artist and singer working in performance, song and traditional folk practices. She has a track record in producing innovative experiential performance works that utilise live singing, appropriated texts, testimonies and visual art to explore social and cultural experiences of power and loss in response to issues such as cultural colonialism, exile, migration and feminist concerns. Ceara has a BA in Glass and Architectural Glass, Edinburgh College of Art, a Post Grad in Community Arts Education, NCAD, and has studied Glass & Photography at Alfred University, USA. In 2013, she received a Paul Brady scholarship from the Irish World Academy of Music at UL. www.cearaconway.com

Further information on Viriditas can be found at
https://saoltaarts.com/stories/viriditas/

galway2020.ie

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