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Custom House Studios are hosting ‘Ten Years on – Art in the Sacred Heart’ by residents of the Sacred Heart Hospital, Castlebar, opening 29 August 2019 at 7.30 pm and running until 22 September.

The exhibition celebrates the last ten years of the Art Room in the Sacred Heart Hospital, facilitated by artist in residence Tom Meskell. All of the work in the show has been made by or in collaboration with the residents of the hospital. The majority of the work is from current participants and their creativity and diversity is shown here. There is no set ‘style’ at play; the variety of the work reflects the variety of the participants involved.

The artistic approach has been developed by Tom Meskell through working with experts in the field of arts and health. The basic approach can be summed up as an artist working with artists, all participants are treated as fellow artists and creatives. The facilitator role is to help participants find and realise their creative vision. This approach helps fulfil the objective of person-centred care in an artistic and creative sense. The use of quality materials is emphasised and an ethos of encouragement and support free from judgement.

Mark Walsh facilitated the programme from 1998 to 2007, there was then a break in the programme until 2009. At this time, Tom Meskell took up the post as part of the Mayo County Council Arts in Health Mentoring programme. In 2011, the charity Friends of the Sacred Heart stepped in and started funding the programme. The HSE has funded the programme since 2016.

In the last ten years, there have been numerous art exhibitions. The film, The Room, funded through the documentation bursary, was made in 2014 and subsequently nominated for a human rights in film award. Some of the current artists are from the original group in 1998 and working with the arts has become part of their identity.

The arts programme in the Sacred Heart was founded in 1998 as part of the Mayo County Council artist in the community residency programme by Deidre Walsh. The founding programme resulted in a publication called ‘Creative Reverie’. Many consider this programme a blueprint for arts in care settings.

The exhibition will take place in the main gallery of the Customs House Studios.


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