The latest edition to the art collection at St. Luke’s General Hospital, Kilkenny is a series of site-specific commissioned artworks in the paediatrics waiting room by Kilkenny artist Rachel Burke. The artworks are a representation of Kilkenny flora (woodlands, fields) and fauna (wild birds, fish and animals, domesticated animals), and the built heritage of the Castle and the natural heritage of the typical Kilkenny woods, rivers and grasslands. The triptych was unveiled on 26 January 2016.
There are plenty of details in the artwork to help both distract and educate the patient. All of the animals are anatomically and species correct with native fauna and wildlife so children can learn about their local environment by helping to identify the animals.
Rachel incorporated favourite poems into the pictures which viewers can read or have their parents read to them. For the younger kids, there is the well loved rhyme, ‘one, two, 3, 4, 5 once I caught a fish alive’ which can help children with numeracy. There is also the iconic ‘The Road Less Travelled’ by Robert Frost, which a lot of people would have learnt in school. These clever little touches by the artist can help children continue to develop their literacy skills while in hospital and if they are missing time at school it helps them to tune in to education in a playful and non-formal way.
Therapeutic Benefits of the Murals
These murals will help patients, their families and guardians relax and de-stress in the paediatrics waiting room while awaiting attendance by paediatrics staff.
Research by Rodger Ulrich has indicated that natural familiar scenes are the most soothing for the healthcare environment to aid patient recovery and help them cope with the often stressful and emotional feelings of being in hospital. With this in mind, the design brief that Dolores Delaney (CNM) and Edelle Nolan (Arts Co-Ordinator) gave the artist was perfectly matched.
‘We wanted the artwork to be child and teenager friendly but also that it would appeal to adults and staff and that it would be site specific to Kilkenny and the South East Region (where the majority of patients would be from). These artworks tick all the boxes and help the viewers to feel a sense of home by the context of the artworks, and also that they feel a sense of space, of being outdoors in nature.’ – Edelle Nolan, Arts Co-Ordinator
The initiative has been funded through the hospital and donations from families through the Paediatric Ward.