Image shown: Other People's Practices: And More Besides. Publication funded by the documentation bursary award 2019 © John Conway.

Other People's Practices: And More Besides. Publication funded by the documentation bursary award 2019 © John Conway.

Other People’s Practices brings artists and health service users of the Central Mental Hospital together to collaborate on projects. Founder and Director John Conway was awarded the documentation bursary in 2019 to create a publication about Other People’s Practices, which was officially launched in August 2021.

‘[Existing Resources] provided little opportunity for participants to explore, and reflect, on their own creativity and their way of seeing and being in the world. My view is that the residency project provided them with exactly that. And more besides.’ – Ann Dunmurray, Programme Manager / Clinical Nurse Manager at Usher’s Island Day Centre

Other People’s Practices: And More Besides is written by Dr. Sheelagh Broderick, an artist and researcher who has worked in the health sector for over 15 years, and designed by Conor Foran.

The publication spans the first generation of sequential artist residencies undertaken by visual artists Emma Finucane (2019), Glenn Loughran (2019 – 2020) and Jonathan Cummins (2020 – present) at Usher’s Island, a National Forensic Mental Health Service community centre in Dublin 8 for recovered and recovering service users of the Central Mental Hospital. Insights from the artists are interwoven with reflections from participants and Ann Dunmurray, Clinical Nurse Manager at Usher’s Island.

Process image, Jonathan Cummins residency: Draft edition of a tabloid newspaper containing participant illustrations of medication. Image courtesy of Jonathan Cummins.

For most of our workshops, we simply sat together, spoke and drew. Around us, life at Usher’s Island continued. Medications were administered from an office accessed through the dayroom where we worked, pool was played beside us and people came and went. Little by little, life in the CMH and one’s trajectory through it was explained to me by the residents. Engagement highlighted expectations on the part of the participants around what I needed to know, such as a recommendation that I read the Mental Health Act (2001) and familiarise myself with CMH’s five pillars of care.’ – Artist Jonathan Cummins

The publication also covers the transition to a new phase of the project in 2021, in parallel with the relocation of the Central Mental Hospital to a new site at CMH Portrane, North County Dublin. Phase 2 aims to support the realisation of artworks in and around the new NFMHS campus and the new CMH, as well as its surrounding community in Portrane. Phase 2 also prioritises engagement with old and new stakeholders and partners to secure and develop the project in Portrane as a permanent resource.

[The project] challenged us to think outside the box and used what we had learned from time in the hospital to inspire our artwork.’ – Participant

Other People’s Practices: And More Besides has been produced as a limited-edition publication. It was launched during an online public conversation event in August 2021. To request a physical copy, email John Conway

A digital version of the publication is available for download:

The documentation bursary also supported the production of a podcast, ‘Dealing In The Reality: Other People’s Practices’, recorded at Check Up Check In 2020 (an initiative of  / Waterford Healing Arts Trust), and an academic paper by Dr. Sheelagh Broderick, ‘Contemporary Art, Health & Medicine: Other People’s Practices: Who are the Other People?’ presented at the Association For Art History Annual Conference in April 2021.

Phases 1 and 2 of OPP are funded by Creative Ireland’s National Creativity Fund and are made possible by a partnership between Project Director John Conway, The National Forensic Mental Health Service and the National College of Art and Design, as well as support from Waterford Healing Arts Trust and Fingal County Council’s Public Art Curator Caroline Cowley.

The documentation bursary is funded by the HSE and the Arts Council.

Updates about Other People’s Practices can be found on the project website:


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