Artists, residents and day visitors of eleven community hospitals and day care centres throughout West Cork are displaying the work of their Envelope project at the Uillinn Centre in Skibbereen until 6 June 2016. During a nine month period over 400 people in hospitals and day centres in West Cork connected with one another by writing letters, drawing pictures or sharing poems and memories and putting them in envelopes and these were posted between the hospitals and day centres.
Together the participants and artists re-lived the enjoyment in writing, one of the artists Toma McCullim describes, “the thrill of receiving a letter; referencing historic letters, famous love letters, facsimiles and the power that people imbue in the words. Each person was invited to create an envelope. The envelope could contain a precious item, words of wisdom, musical notes, drawing or artwork of any nature. Together we explored a variety of materials and processes; written, montaged, painted and printed then fastened with twine, franked with a stamp or sealed with wax. Each one created reflected a personal experience of correspondence.”
Nellie Cullinane who is a resident at Dunmanway Community Hospital said “I loved writing the letter, putting it into the envelop and sealing it. These days most envelopes we receive are brown and contain bills or formal notices. The ones we made were highly decorative, colourful and had personal meaning to all of us. Both sending my envelope knowing that someone would read it and receiving envelopes from other hospitals gave me real pleasure.”
Director of Nursing at Dunmanway Community Hospital, Theresa Healy-Kingston said “the envelope project celebrating and exploring the diminishing art of letter writing as a new digital era evolves was a great way for residents to explore their creativity and remember days gone by when writing letters was the only way of communication for many. It brought back many happy and sad occasions for some and allowed them time to reminisce and honour times gone by.”
Visitors to the interactive exhibition are invited to witness the collection of correspondence and join in to create their own envelope, continuing the conversation between the contributors. The exhibit, which was organised by the West Cork Arts for Health partnership programme, is part of this year’s Bealtaine Festival the national arts festival unique to Ireland. Bealtaine celebrates creativity as we age, run by Age and Opportunity, with an exhibition showcasing the programmes for older people that run year round from West Cork Arts Centre, along with; gallery tours, workshops and once off events.
Arts for Health is a partnership programme based in West Cork implementing a managed arts programme for older people in healthcare settings. It takes place in five Community Hospitals, five Day Care Centres and Bantry General Hospital Care of the Elderly Unit. The partners are West Cork Arts Centre, Cork County Council, Cork Education & Training Board and the HSE. The HSE is represented through the Cork Arts + Health Programme, the Health Promotion Department, the Nursing Directors of Community Hospitals and the Day Care Centres, West Cork.