United in Colour, an exhibition of artwork by Headway clients, is currently on display in the main corridor of Tallaght Hospital. Headway is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to bring about positive change in the lives of those affected by Acquired Brain Injury (ABI). The exhibition runs until 10 May 2013.

The United in Colour exhibition is the work of participants at Headway’s three Day Services Centres in Dublin. These centres are aimed at people who typically have more severe injuries or whose rehabilitation is slower. Many of the clients on these programmes have sustained a brain injury from stroke, haemorrhage or a head injury and often experience communication difficulties. Art sessions are held each week in Clontarf, Donnybrook and Stoneybatter to increase self-confidence; facilitate self-expression, creativity, and social interaction; improve motor skills and concentration; and aid memory and reminiscence.

Anne Marie Durcan, who facilitates the art programme, says: ‘Working with these groups over the last ten years as Art Facilitator lets me see first hand the beneficial effects the sessions can make in the lives of participants.  Often after a brain injury communication skills may be impaired, so finding a voice to tell their own story and ideas through art is of great benefit for participants who have difficulties expressing themselves verbally.’

In the words of one of the Donnybrook participants, ‘You’ve something to say to people and you can’t get it out. You come in and get it out in colours.’

There are many facets to Headway’s art programme, including an annual art exhibition held in conjunction with two other community groups, an art calendar and Christmas card project, and mosiacs & crafts projects. The artworks from Headway clients on display at Tallaght Hospital were originally exhibited at the 2012 Headway Art Expo in Dublin.

Anne Marie Durcan highlights the significance of the annual exhibition, which is now entering its 12th year, for participants’ self-confidence and motivation: ‘It is of vital importance that these opportunities exist so that participants can share their artwork, and know it is viewed, valued and appreciated. With this purpose in mind, five years ago I promoted the idea of holding the annual exhibition jointly with other groups I facilitate in Halston/Church Street and Pearse Street. All the groups agreed to this enthusiastically as a means of reaching a wider and more inclusive audience. In 2012, sixty-five artists from five areas of the city showed for a week in the Atrium, Dublin City Council Offices, Wood Quay.’

Artists from the Headway programme and the two participating community groups meet with their fellow exhibitors and contribute to each other’s learning by sharing ideas and experiences.

A Headway client remarked of the 2012 Art Expo: ‘It was great … Look at all the work we done. There were some very good artists. My mother was there with me and my aunt, I was proud.’

Headway, founded in 1985, was initially established as a support group for family members and professionals to address the needs of people living with an aquired brain injury and their carers. Over the last 27 years, Headway has expanded and now provides a range of community based services, including psychological, day rehabilitation, and training services, as well as information and support and community integration. Headway also aims to increase public awareness of ABI and the impact not just on the individual but also on family members and carers. Headway has services in Dublin, Cork, Kerry and the South East.

For more information on Headway’s services, please visit www.headway.ie or phone 1890 200278.


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