Hospital Voices, a new choral work created by composer Eric Sweeney and poet Edward Denniston during their time as Artists-in-Residence at University Hospital Waterford / Waterford Healing Arts Trust this year, will be performed for the first time on 6 December 2018 at the hospital chapel. Created to mark the 25th anniversary of Waterford Healing Arts Trust (WHAT), Hospital Voices has been developed in collaboration with patients and staff at UHW, and will be performed by Madrigallery Chamber Choir, under the direction of Dr Kevin O’Carroll. A special exhibition, A Celebration of Waterford Healing Arts Trust in 25 Objects, will also be unveiled the same evening.
Hospital Voices came about through the WHAT Artist-in-Residence programme. Funded by the Arts Council, this programme aims to engage patients in contemporary arts practice and to provide an opportunity for artists to develop their professional practice within an acute hospital context. This is the first time WHAT has brought together two art forms under its Artist-in-Residence programme and it is also the first time the hospital has had a Composer-in-Residence. For this project, Eric Sweeney and Edward Denniston invited patients and staff at UHW to share their memories of music and/or poetry through conversation and song. In response to these, Edward wrote a series of poems which Eric then set to music. The result is a rich, layered choral work, reflecting the contributions of the participants, as well as the artists’ own impressions and responses to the hospital setting.
‘The rich store of memory from a variety of patients we interviewed inspired a creative response which included an exploration of such concepts as hospital/hospice, cure/care as well as the vital role of “those who reach out a hand” and “those who console and comfort with a word or song”. It was both inspiring and humbling to work with all those who offered healing, hope and a daily celebration of life.’ – Composer Eric Sweeney
‘To have been afforded the chance to engage with hospital staff and patients was a privilege. Without doubt, I’m more fully awake to the possibilities offered by arts practice in a place of care and healing.’ – Poet Edward Denniston
A Celebration of Waterford Healing Arts Trust in 25 Objects
This special exhibition, which will also be unveiled on 6 December, reflects the evolution of WHAT over the last 25 years and features a carefully curated collection, including paintings, sound recordings and sculptures.
‘We’re presenting an exhibition of 25 objects to tell the story of Waterford Healing Arts Trust, what we do and why. We wanted to represent the landmark moments in the organisation’s development and the artworks produced through our art programmes, artist residencies, public art commissions, exhibitions and music programmes, as well as our national arts and health development work. There are literally hundreds of objects we could have included, so we have had to make some very careful choices. We hope everyone who sees the exhibition will find it as fascinating as we have! We are deeply grateful to our funders the HSE, the Arts Council, the Department of Social Protection, Waterford City and County Council, the National Lottery, The Ireland Funds and Punchestown Kidney Research Fund for their continued support.’ – Claire Meaney, WHAT Acting Director
Waterford Healing Arts Trust – Background
Established in 1993, WHAT is a pioneer in the arts and health world, having set up when the concept of arts in healthcare settings was in its infancy in Ireland and internationally. Originally the brainchild of a GP practising in Waterford, Dr Abdul Bulbulia, who had a vision for how artworks in the clinical setting could enhance patient wellbeing, WHAT has built up a strong track record over the last 25 years to become the national lead on arts and health development in Ireland. From the early days of a visionary committee seeking to enhance the endless corridors of the then newly-built Waterford Regional Hospital, to the present organisation with its myriad of artists, artforms, artworks and participatory arts programmes in UHW and other healthcare settings, the philosophy of the organisation remains the same: the arts have a positive life enhancing role. For patients, family members and staff, engaging with the arts stimulates a person’s sense of identity, creativity and possibility. While the organisation’s work is not ‘therapy’, it is inherently therapeutic and uplifting.
Further details from www.waterfordhealingarts.com or (051) 842664.