Image shown: Iontas Shadow Puppetry project

Artist Philip Cullen recently delivered a shadow-puppetry project in Newport Day Centre, Dungarvan as part of Iontas, an arts and mental health programme for clients of the Waterford Mental Health Services. Iontas is a partnership between WHAT (the Waterford Healing Arts Trust) and the Waterford Wexford Mental Health Service (WWMHS) and offers clients of six mental health settings in Waterford participatory arts experiences in a range of artforms – visual art, shadow puppetry, music, writing and dance.

Eight service users participated in the shadow puppet project and learned to make shadow puppets, create their own stories and practiced puppet movement, voices, music and performance. According to artist Philip Cullen, “There was a very happy atmosphere during the workshops. Everyone participated fully in the magic of making up stories, cutting out puppets and acting. There was a lot of laughter, song and witty comments. I really enjoyed the fun of it all and the welcoming atmosphere created by the staff and users of the service in Newport.”

Through Iontas, service users can access participatory arts opportunities on a year round basis in the Department of Psychiatry, Waterford Regional Hospital and the Activation Therapy Unit, St. Otteran’s Hospital. Iontas also brings, for the first time, creative opportunities to clients of the acute ward in the Department of Psychiatry.

Some of the creative results of this programme will be showcased, where appropriate, through the second Well, festival of arts and wellbeing which will take place in Waterford in October 2014 in tandem with World Mental Health Day and Garter Lane Arts Centre.

WHAT acknowledges the financial support of the WWMHS, the Arts Council, Waterford City Council and Waterford County Council in making this programme possible.

For more information about the Iontas arts and mental health programme contact Claire Meaney at or 051 842664 or see 


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