The project was initiated and led by the End of Life Coordinator, supported by the Arts Officer, together working alongside the commissioned artist to develop the concept and assist with all aspects to project installation.
Project brief, selection process and inspiration:
An invitation for submission was offered to resident artists working within TUH. Three submissions were received for consideration with the winning concept unanimously selected by an arts panel. The artist presented the design concept for open discussion to gain vital staff input. This was important given the sensitivity of the subject matter and what it would represent for staff.
Turner pointed out that ‘although this was not a participatory project per se, inspiration flowed from hearing stories and anecdotes about much loved staff members during site visits and also from meeting and interacting with TUH staff members throughout my previous years of working on site. The process was well supported by the project lead and Arts Officer extending an open channel for discussion and communication throughout each stage.’
Key project aims:
- To create an artwork, via a commissioned arts and health project, dedicated to the remembrance of deceased colleagues whilst offering a space for quiet reflection.
- To create harmony between the artwork and the existing planting and water features of the space.
- To make use of the natural light and height of the atrium space.
Artistic aims to consider:
Legacy Sensitivity Inclusivity
Inspiration Be uplifting Be universal
Creating a site-specific artwork to inspire a space for quiet reflection within a busy healthcare setting was always going to be challenging and required a high level of sensitivity, creativity and research.
The butterfly symbol emerged early on during the consultation stages. This simple universal shape, with its wide expanse across the wings, would also offer an opportunity to highlight screen-printing techniques. The butterfly has uplifting meanings within many cultures. Native Americans describe them as ‘lightness of being and elevation from the heaviness of tensions, bringing joy and bliss in bright colours’. To give this project a true sense of place, Turner designed illustrations of flora and fauna referencing the surrounding rural landscape of the Dublin and Wicklow mountains. These illustrations were screen-printed onto each butterfly. Trees and plants including hawthorn, oak, stitchwort and bracken were layered with transparent and opaque ink to create abstract markings.
The softness of the green circles dotted throughout the installation assist the viewer by moving the eye away from the busy lines of the yellow brick and foregrounding the butterflies. They can be viewed individually or in clusters from various viewing points on the ground floor through to the upper floor levels.
Turner describes her practice:
‘I approached the brief with two clear distinctions, the first was the process and fabrication method, the second was the motif. Copper was the chosen material due to the beautiful light reflective qualities it possesses. It would work well in the space by complimenting the brick work, capturing, bouncing and reflecting the natural light that streams through the glass roof, and is perfect for screen print on multiple layers.
Each butterfly is attached to the wall by a mechanical arm which could be pivoted and screwed into position, ensuring each printed face would at some point of the day be touched by sunlight. Varying the lengths of the mechanical arms added to the spectacle of motif shadows cast onto the brick wall under direct sunlight. The light bouncing from their surface exudes warmth, light and life, therefore the visual (as a whole) transforms as often as natural light alters with the seasons.’
The project was installed in the winter months. Although daylight hours were limited, the installation team were treated to a magnificent display of the changing vista as the sunshine burst through the rapidly moving clouds, casting shadows upon the wall and bouncing light across the wingspans, only to suddenly change again. The butterflies were transformed and appeared to be evolving and moving upwards towards the sky.
Butterflies are often recognised as wonderful examples of creatures with bilateral symmetry. Although the motif shapes are symmetrical the printed designs are asymmetrical. A nod of recognition to the wonderful individuality of those being remembered. The transient highlights of each butterfly remind us of how fragile and delicate life is, and how precious are the friends and colleagues we have lost.
The installation launch was celebrated in January 2020 supported by the Executive Management Team with high attendance by staff members and some family members of deceased colleagues.
The occasion was marked by music from the Sing While You Can Singers (a TUH casual singing group of staff members) directed by Clara Monahan, followed by a beautiful service from the Pastoral Care Team which featured poetry, readings and instrumental music.
Lucy Turner reflected after the launch: ‘As an artist I was extremely taken by the number of staff attending the launch and felt the singing was both charming and uplifting which beautifully integrated with the sensitive and thought-provoking meaning behind the artwork. There are many elements of this project that appeared to resonate well with staff and for that I am very grateful. It was an honour to create the work and even more so to be present for the launch and receive such positive feedback.’
The artist updated the team regularly with images of design development, colour choice and layering of individual elements onto the copper. Her editing and curation skills were strongly highlighted during the installation as elements were tweaked to capture the ambient light. Every factor was carefully and thoughtfully considered with remembrance in mind.
Many comments and messages were sent to the Arts Department expressing heartfelt admiration for Lucy Turner’s design and creation of Butterfly Haven. They included much gratitude to TUH for commissioning the artist and designating a space for reflection. Sincere and emotional responses were expressed by staff remembering their colleagues and we also received very positive responses about the launch event.
It is a pleasure to share a small selection of anonymous messages that capture the essence of what it meant to staff to have an artwork dedicated to the remembrance of their colleagues.
‘Having worked in TUH since 2000 I have lost several colleagues and friends. I cannot express enough the joy and also the comfort the Butterfly Haven art installation has given me. What a lovely space to stop and reflect on our friends.’
‘A very touching service. The choir were just beautiful. It was calming, reflective, sad, emotional, soothing, respectful and thoughtful. The artwork is so pleasant. A fine tribute.’
‘I absolutely love the artwork and space. I go there often, sit down and take a few moments of quiet time at the start of my day to reflect and remember. The launch celebration was a wonderful idea.’
Documentation and Dissemination
Most of the documentation was internal with a project statement disseminated amongst staff through Touchpoint, the TUH internal newsletter.
An open invitation to the launch was advertised to staff via screensaver and social media, and a press release was shared by TUH Communications announcing the launch.
An overview of the project will be submitted as a feature in the TUH 2020 Annual Report, shared throughout the HSE and with various stakeholders.
Butterfly Haven will also feature as a commissioned project in the TUH Arts Programme Three-Year Review 2019-2021 which will be disseminated by the Arts Department.
Watch Butterfly Haven – Capturing the Light (short clip of work in situ)
Butterfly Haven launch with the Sing While You Can Singers:
Supported by Executive Management Team, TUH
Launch partners included The Sing While You Can Singers directed by Clara Monahan and the Pastoral Care Team (readings and music)
Installation by CE Solutions and supported by Estate Management & Technical Services
Date of Publication
Tallaght University Hospital
Project leads: Ann Hickey, End of Life Coordinator, TUH; Alison Baker Kerrigan, Arts Officer, The National Centre for Arts & Health at TUH.
Tallaght University Hospital
Acute Hospitals, End of Life, Staff Health and Wellbeing
Nature of project
Art Commission, Residency