The Nurses’ Home
The Nurses’ Home book and exhibition was commissioned in 2008 by Mater Campus Hospital Development Ltd. under the Per Cent for Art Scheme at the time of the demolition of the old Nurses’ Home building at the Mater Hospital, Dublin. This building was demolished to accommodate the construction of a major new hospital development on the site.
The Mater Hospital’s Nurses’ Home, which opened in 1952, was built to be the main residence for trainee nurses of the hospital. The building had accommodation for two hundred and fifty staff and students. It retained its primary function until the late 1980’s when it was largely converted into offices, study rooms, lecture theatres and the hospital library. The Nurse’s Home was an integral part of the learning process of all nurses trained in the Mater Hospital up until the buildings demolition in 2008.
The artist, Michael Durand created this body of work prior to the buildings demolition. The empty building was photographed over a number of days and nights, using natural and street lighting to illuminate the spaces. Archival photographs were also projected into rooms and corridors in an attempt to capture a sense of memory and absence.
The aim of the project was to create a piece of work that would place itself somewhere between archive and memory, to not only document the space, but also to capture a sense of the lives lived within it.
The artist, Michael Durand developed his approach through conversations and consultations with the commissioners and staff of the Mater Hospital.
It was apparent that this iconic building, and the memories contained within it were significant to the history of the hospital and it was important that these were recorded before it was too late.
The work in part grew out of the large photographic archive of images, of the staff, nurses and trainee nurses, made in and around the building over the past five decades. These historical images were photographed and then projected back into the space and re-recorded creating a kind of memory loop of an image within an image.
Documentation & Dissemination
The final body of work was presented as a wall hung exhibition in the link corridor of the Mater Hospital, which opened on the first day of the demolition of the Nurse’s Home.
The exhibition was reviewed in the national press and was well received by visitors to and staff of the hospital, creating a dialogue around memories of the space.
The work was also produced as a numbered and signed edition book of 500 copies, which was distributed to staff, arts organisations and public and private libraries.
Mater Campus Hospital Development Ltd.
Per Cent for Art Scheme
Nature of Project
Public art commission