Image shown: Drawing on my Experiences at St Luke's Hospital Dublin

St Luke’s Hospital Art Centre recently launched Open Gallery, a dedicated space to celebrate creativity and to exhibit patients’ and staff art work alongside each other. ‘Drawing on my Experiences’ is the first exhibition as part of the Open Gallery programme and will run until Christmas 2019. 

St Luke’s Hospital in Rathgar, Dublin, has specialised in treating cancer patients from throughout Ireland since 1954. It is a primary national centre for radiotherapy treatment.

Since 2008, St Luke’s Art Centre has developed and run a vibrant, varied and inclusive arts programme for patients. In 2011, art courses for staff were introduced. The Open Gallery provides an opportunity to open up a dialogue between patients and staff about their art work. The staff art wall will be a changing space regularly exhibiting new work.

Drawing on my Experiences

In preparation for the launch, Art Centre staff conducted research with patients as part of a specific project, ‘Drawing on my Experiences’. The aim of this project was threefold:

  • To visually record and discuss patients’ experience of artmaking
  • To investigate why some people turn to making visual art after a cancer diagnosis
  • To explore how artistic self-expression seems to contribute to the reconstruction of a positive identity.

The group comprised 14 male and female cancer patients. Some had no experience of artmaking, some were returning to artmaking and some had a background in art. The patients were interviewed individually while illustrator Lee Kirwan, an arts facilitator at St Luke’s, sketched them. The interviews were carried out in a relaxed manner with responses recorded and evaluated by Ema Staunton, Arts Co-ordinator.

The interviews explored how being involved in artmaking had affected patients’ cancer journey. Their responses were personal and thoughtful. Patients commented that engaging in artmaking provided them with a renewed opportunity to reflect, understand and create. Overall, the project highlighted the positive and transformative impact that arts experiences can have on cancer patients.

The ‘Drawing on my Experiences’ exhibition is devised and curated by Ema Staunton. Arts facilitator Alison McGrath assisted on the project.

For further information on St Luke’s Hospital Art Centre see


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