Image shown: In Yonder Garden Grows

Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre is celebrating this year’s national Bealtaine Festival, celebrating creativity as we age, with a multidisciplinary exhibition, showcasing many of the art programmes and projects with older people that take place at the Centre and throughout the region, along with gallery tours, workshops and once off events.

A selection of work from West Cork Arts Centre’s Programme for Older People will be exhibited from 5 May to 11 June in the South Stairwell and Link Galleries. The exhibition includes a collage artwork by Early Bird Artists who meet at Uillinn each Monday morning with artist Paul Forde Cialis and printmaking, poetry and music made by residents in six West Cork Community Hospitals and several West Cork Day Care Centres who are facilitated by a team of local artists working on the Arts for Health Partnership Programme.

In Yonder Garden Grows
This project combines poetry, music and flowers to connect Arts for Health participants in three hospitals – Castletownbere, Clonakilty and Bantry. Each week, Tess Leak, the artist leading the project, would take in armfuls of flowers from The Glebe Gardens in Baltimore to inspire lively and thoughtful conversations, with a small part of the natural world enlivening the hospital setting. ‘People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us!‘ said Iris Murdoch, one of the participants. Musician Liz Clark collaborated by bringing flower-themed songs to enrich the experience. Tess worked with designer Orlagh O’Brien from Haiku Island Press to create, by hand, a limited-edition book of poems for this exhibition.

Visit artist members in residency 
For three weeks during Bealtaine (8 – 27 May), visitors to Uillinn can visit Studio 3 to meet two older artist members in residency. Sonia Bidwell is a textile artist and storyteller who spent most of her life in Scotland. Her woven artworks, incorporating found objects, are packed with symbolism and inspired by her love of literature and poetry. Fran Woolf, a graduate of the BA (hons) Visual Art Degree Programme, Sherkin Island and a member of Cork Printmakers, creates paintings, prints and photographs that examine the natural world as seen from her home – an old farmhouse clinging to a high rock overlooking a wide expanse of West Cork. Both artists also have work on exhibition as part of the Members’ Exhibition 2017. A free tour of this exhibition, with Alison Cronin and Sonia Bidwell, takes place on Saturday 13 May at 11:30pm, all welcome.

According to Programme Manager Justine Foster, ‘the exhibition includes a variety of work and approaches by participants on our older people’s programme. One of the more fun and interactive projects is Radiophone, an installation where visitors are invited to pick up the old-style telephone, dial a number, and listen to tracks created and recorded by older people in residential care settings working with singer-songwriter Liz Clark and musician and composer, Justin Grounds.’ 

Ask to be put ‘On Hold’ when phoning Reception at Uillinn and you will hear a live recording of ‘Gramophone‘ by the Starlings’ Song Band, created in collaboration with residents at West Cork Community Hospitals.

Bealtaine Art Trail 
More work from older people engaging in the arts can be seen in the Bealtaine Art Trail at branch County Libraries in Bantry, Dunmanway, Castletownbere, Schull and Skibbereen and at many of the other events taking place during the Bealtaine Festival throughout West Cork.

About Bealtaine 
Established in 1995, Bealtaine is Ireland’s largest co-operative festival and the world’s first national celebration of creativity in older age. The Bealtaine Festival takes place each May throughout Ireland and involves thousands of participants in every art form. Part-funded by the Arts Council, Bealtaine is co-ordinated by Age & Opportunity, the national organisation working to promote greater participation by older people in society.

Arts for Health Partnership Programme is based in West Cork and provides a managed and integrated arts programme for older people in healthcare settings. Managed by West Cork Arts Centre, Arts for Health runs all year round and is delivered by team of professional artists from different disciplines. It takes place in five Community Hospitals, Bantry General Hospital Care of the Elderly Unit and five Day Care Centres throughout West Cork. The partners comprise 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 Communications Department, Health Promotion Department, the Nursing Directors of Community Hospitals and the Day Care Centres, West CorkThe Arts for Health partnership gratefully acknowledges the local support towards the programme with special thanks to West Cork Older People’s Network and Friends of the Day Care Centres.

To find out more or to book into an event at Uillinn, contact Uillinn Reception at 028 22090. 

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