The national arts and health website is delighted to announce that Hearth, a Mayo-based arts programme for older people living in their own homes, has been awarded this year’s Documentation Bursary which is funded by the Arts Council and the HSE.

Hearth co-ordinator Breda Mayock will work with filmmakers Mary Deely and Eamonn Dunne to create a short observational film documenting the ‘everyday’ of the programme in participants’ homes in Achill Island and Castlebar.

Hearth was established in 2009 as a partnership between Mayo County Council and local HSE community care teams to target rural isolation through the medium of creativity. The origins of the programme stretch back to 2004, when artists based in five care settings were mentored by artist Deirdre Walsh through Mayo County Council’s Artist Mentoring Scheme in partnership with the Western Health Board. The idea of extending the programme into the community then took shape under the leadership of Deirdre Walsh and Breda Mayock.

Participants receive regular visits from a professional visual artist and gradually build their own personal art programme at home using a variety of media. The project co-ordinator introduces artists to community care teams such as occupational therapists, GPs and public health nurses. They in turn match the artists with older participants in the community who are isolated geographically, due to ill health, or for other reasons.

Hearth enables participants to work in stress-free environments on projects that are free of expectation, alongside artists who have experience of working with older people. In documenting the ‘everyday’ of the programme (a participant preparing their art space, the artist’s journey to the house, the exchanges that ensue), the film proposes to elevate ordinary, fleeting daily actions which act as a metaphor for the dignity of the participants themselves and the importance that Hearth places on this.

As Hearth was developed from a need to support elderly people living in their own homes, particularly those based in rurally isolated locations, the landscape will itself form a character, the epic scenery of Achill juxtaposed with macro shots of small, telling details such as a tapestry showing a country scene. Brief stylised moments will dot the film, giving a sense of otherworldliness to illustrate the escapism that art can provide.

Hearth aligns with an increased drive to move healthcare into the community. Taking the lead from this community-based approach, the filmmakers want to show how the programme prioritises creativity and human connection, and individualizes the participants. The multiple visits, the observational style, the focus on the artwork and the contrast between the small, daily gestures and the epic landscape are some of the ways in which this will be achieved.

Hearth exhibition at Linenhall Arts Centre


Hearth is currently facilitated by the following team of artists: Breda Mayock, Pamela Gray, Maggie Morrison and Norah Brennan.

The programme is supported by Mayo County Council Arts Service and HSE Community Care Teams in Mayo. It is currently funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies, Southwest Mayo Development Company, Creative Ireland and Healthy Ireland.

Breda Mayock

Breda Mayock is an artist and musician living in Co. Mayo. She has toured and exhibited internationally. In 2009, she originated The Hearth Project with Deirdre Walsh. This project has brought art workshops into the homes of older people in Mayo over the past fifteen years.

Mayock also collaborates with the African community and with the Traveller community in Mayo on art and cultural projects. She works with Mayo Arts Service as a co-ordinator of many diverse art projects including Luisne Art Project, a long-standing arts and disability project in Mayo.

Mayock’s art practice runs alongside her other work. Throughout her career, her artistic expression has consistently centred on the theme of belonging and the universal desire for connection through shared experiences and languages. Mayock’s work in music and visual art has delved deeply into the experiences of women from minority cultures residing in the west of Ireland. Her art aims to bring visibility to pressing questions and advocate for change.

Mary Deely

Mary Deely has produced short documentaries including ‘From Ash’ about the craft of hurley-making which was supported by the Irish Design Council and toured festivals globally. She recently directed a short documentary ‘Matrescence’ about the experiences of first-time mothers which will have its festival premiere in Verona at the Bridge Film Festival in July 2024. Previously she worked on various film productions in the art department.

Eamonn Dunne

Eamonn Dunne is a camera operator and filmmaker based in the West of Ireland. He is also a storyline writer for the drama series Ros na Rún and has made several short documentaries which have screened in various film festivals nationally and internationally.


Sign up to our e-bulletin to keep up to date with the latest news and opportunities.