In My Own Time is a creative arts project with a group of older people in continuing and respite care that took place in St Patrick’s University Hospital, Marymount in Cork City. The project used music, song, stories, poetry and movement to tell the stories of the participants.
This collaborative project was designed as a method of self expression for the participants using a combination of artforms, enabling them to tell their stories through known and newly created material. It was inspired by the hospital’s move to a new facility.
This project aimed to capture a snapshot of the residents and their connection to the existing building. Collecting and collating these stories and music was an integral part of the project and gave participants a record of what had happened throughout the residency.
The project aimed to create an enjoyable artistic experience that was tailored to the participants’ own personal life stories and interests, and to explore new music that they might not usually listen to or sing / play. The project also aimed to develop a sense of social integration within the group.
In My Own Time focused on creating new musical material with the participants through vocal and instrumental improvisation, alongside collecting known music, songs and stories. Vocal improvisation had a prominent role in the project as many of the participants regularly improvised their own tunes and songs in an informal manner, allowing these ideas to be developed into melodic themes for the new music. Local personalities and popular locations, along with poetry, provided a stimulus for recollection and storytelling.
Movement and experimentation on instruments provided a contrast to the vocal aspects of the project, and enabled the participants to have alternative and non-verbal means of expressing themselves.
The end product of the project is a recording featuring a combination of elements from inside and outside of the music groups. Each session was recorded to capture songs, stories, music and sayings. Outside of the sessions, interesting improvisations and vocalisations were developed by the musicians to create the new music which is featured throughout the recording.
Collecting the songs, music and stories functions not only as a method of documenting the project itself, but more importantly as a method of capturing through sound life in St. Patrick’s. The project also records some of the many characters who live in the old building before moving to the new.
A final evaluation was drawn up in consultation with facilitators and staff, and drawing on the response of the participants. It was informed by reflective journals of the artists and regular monitoring in conjunction with staff in St Patrick’s. The participants’ feedback during the project formed a vital part of the monitoring process to ensure that their artistic needs were met and that they enjoyed the process.
The recording will act as a musical documentation and evaluation of the process that took place over the course of the year. This features many comments made by the participants about the project and of music in general.
The project was considered a success based on the group’s enjoyment of working in a more creative manner. The next phase of the project with choreographer Jo Nichols starts in October 2011 and aims to be more ambitious in terms of creating new work with the group. This would not have been possible without the ground work undertaken during In My Own Time.
Documentation and Dissemination
A recording entitled In My Own Time showcases some of the stories and happenings of the project, as well as the newly created works. This will be available for all the participants, staff, funders and other interested parties to give a glimpse of what happened during the year.
The recording will be launched in December 2011 and everyone involved in the project will receive a copy. Excerpts from the recording will be available online after the launch on the MusicAlive website (www.musicalive.ie) and the St Patrick’s University Hospital website (www.stpatricksmarymount.ie).
St Patrick’s University Hospital, Marymount
Cork City Council
Cork Arts + Health Programme
Cork City VEC
September 2010 – May 2011
Recording Launch – December 2011
Caoimhe Conlon, Kevin O'Shanahan
Nature of project