Image shown: Kevin Cosgrove

Image shown: Kevin Cosgrove

The Arts Council Art Collection comprises over 1,100 works by Irish artists, which it loans to public spaces including galleries, libraries, schools and hospitals. For more than 30 years there has been a strong history of works from the Collection being on public display in healthcare settings across Ireland. At present there are over 170 works in healthcare locations in Dublin, Kildare, Kilkenny, Limerick, Louth and Waterford. 

The experience of hospitals highlights that artwork can soften and enhance the clinical environment for patients, visitors and staff; assist with way finding by providing distinctive landmarks; provoke curiosity and provide comfort for patients and visitors; and enhance wellbeing for patients. Artworks in healthcare settings also present an opportunity for artists to engage with new audiences in new ways, and in particular with individuals who may find the arts difficult to access due to the complexities of ill health.

At a time when the Covid-19 pandemic makes tangible connections between artists and healthcare communities much more challenging, artworks on public display can transport people to other places and offer moments of beauty and wonder during difficult times.

For this new series, a partnership between and the Arts Council Visual Arts Collection Department, we will be highlighting one artwork in a different healthcare setting each month. Selected artworks will be chosen by participating healthcare settings and accompanied by insights from contributors. An accompanying perspective by Ben Mulligan and Ann O’Connor from the Arts Council provides insights into the lending process.

We are delighted to launch the series with an artwork from the Arts Council Collection at University Hospital Waterford.

Workshop with Chocolate Tin by Kevin Cosgrove at University Hospital Waterford

Waterford Healing Arts Trust (WHAT) is Ireland’s leading arts and health organisation. Based at University Hospital Waterford (UHW), WHAT brings arts experiences to the bedside of patients at the hospital and other healthcare settings. WHAT also manages the extensive UHW art collection, which includes artworks on loan from the collections of the Arts Council, Waterford City and County Council and many private donors. Through the display of these 600 artworks throughout the hospital, WHAT aims to soften the clinical environment and humanise the healthcare space.

Kevin Cosgrove’s Workshop with Chocolate Tin is currently on loan to UHW from the collection of the Arts Council. In addition to hanging in a busy corridor where it is viewed by hundreds of patients, staff and visitors every day (under normal circumstances), WHAT artists and staff also use this extraordinary painting as part of Open Gallery, an art viewing programme for patients on the ward, many of whom have dementia. This programme is delivered by artists Caroline Schofield and Jill Bouchier.

Cosgrove’s painting has also been included in an art resource pack, In Your Own Time, produced by WHAT with Caroline Schofield, to support the enjoyment and creation of art by renal dialysis patients during the Covid-19 lockdown period.

Artist Caroline Schofield explains the attraction of this work: ‘When I first saw Kevin Cosgrove’s painting I was very excited. The painting is beautiful and multifaceted, ideal for Open Gallery, our programme which presents artworks to patients, visitors and staff on the hospital wards. Open Gallery participants connect to this work as there is so much to see and chat about in it.  It transcends time, with patients enjoying the craft of the painting and the memories it evokes of workshops that they have been in with their parents or grandparents, learning new skills or remembering lost crafts.’

View artworks from the Arts Council Collection in this dedicated gallery:


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