Artists Conall Cary and Peter McMorris were commissioned to create artworks for Waterford Residential Care Centre (WRCC) under the Per Cent for Art Scheme. Six different artworks located throughout WRCC were installed in March 2020. The commission was managed by Waterford Healing Arts Trust and involved participation from staff and service users.
Residents and staff from Waterford Residential Care Centre.
The artworks were commissioned in 2019 as part of the development of Waterford Residential Care Centre, a purpose-built facility for older people on a site adjacent to the existing St Patrick’s Hospital. The centre is spread across four households, three of which now house residents of older persons services previously accommodated in St Patrick’s.
Many of the St. Patrick’s residents had some reservations about moving from a familiar setting to an entirely new one. As such, the artworks aimed to foster a sense of connection and familiarity to the new home, and to integrate residents naturally into the new environment.
The artists initially met with staff and residents to gather words, phrases, characters, locations and text that held special significance. Contributions ranged from simple thoughts such as ‘Having the Company’, to conversations about the weather, familiar characters that had passed away, and more intimate words or phrases that reminded residents of times gone by. These special contributions were then etched into the surface of the artworks located at the entrance of each of the four residential wards. In this way, it was hoped that the ward artworks would create an instant connection with the residents, and also act as a conversation starter and an ice breaker in their new environment.
The Rose Window is a large-scale piece in the main reception, made in response to the cathedral-like space of the original building, and echoing the form of a traditional rose window often found in the knave of a cathedral. Its immersive scale and landscape imagery are meant to draw the viewer in, up, and out towards the horizon. The design and materials imbue the space with the feeling of hope and of the sun’s warm rays, and aim to foster a sense of healthy distraction.
The artworks for both the courtyard and main reception were created in response to the Waterford landscape, and draw on imagery from Lough Coumshingaun in the Comeragh Mountains, and from the Waterford coastline. The artworks were made by etching laser cut brass using traditional intaglio methods, and inking and lacquering the finished works to be float mounted to the wall.
Six artworks were created for the WRCC. Four artworks were made for individual wards within the centre, which involved text contributed by service users and staff etched onto brass shapes, further etched with imagery of local flora. These artworks incorporate geometric forms that subtly reference and invert the shape found in the rose window artwork in the main foyer.
The outdoor courtyard artwork was created by laser cutting hand-drawn silhouettes of foliage and vegetation into brass, and then further etching photographic imagery of the Waterford coastline across the surface.
The final piece, the Rose Window, was a large-scale artwork situated in the main reception area that echoes a cathedral rose window, and is made of laser cut and etched brass with imagery of the view from Lake Coumshingaun in the Comeragh mountains in Waterford.
During the development phase of the commission, focus groups with residents supported the preparation of the project brief. Residents suggested ideas for artworks in the new unit and advised that they were open to working collaboratively with an artist.
Once the artists were in place, initial meetings with the Director of Nursing, the HSE Estates Manager, and Waterford Healing Arts Trust helped to inform the types of imagery used, and also the ways in which service users and staff engaged with the project.
Following the installation of the artworks, reflections on the commission from various stakeholders were captured in a specially commissioned video by publicart.ie and in an online panel discussion on Public Art in Healthcare produced as part of the artsandhealth.ie Arts and Health Conversation Series.
Claire Meaney, Director of Waterford Healing Arts Trust:
This was one of the first times Waterford Healing Arts Trust worked on a commission outside of an acute hospital. We were able to include the future residents of Waterford Residential Care Centre in decision making for the commission. A resident representative was a member of the selection committee and Conall and Peter connected with the residents and staff to gather contributions to inform some of the work. The involvement of the residents was very important as the commissioned artwork was going to be placed in their home.
The completed brass artwork is beautifully presented and I love the way Conall and Peter brought images from the local landscape into the residential setting.
Artist Conall Cary:
The commission for WRCC was very enjoyable to work on, and we were very pleased with the final result. This was in no small part down to the managing of the commission by WHAT, and the excellent lines of communication between the HSE, WHAT and the staff at WRCC.
When it came to sourcing original photographs of the landscape for use in the final artworks, WHAT were even able to put us in touch with a local walking guide to take us to locations that we would not have been aware of on our own, or that we wouldn’t have known how to find/access.
The involvement with staff, service users, local guides and WHAT helped to create an intimate and familiar quality in the finished works, which hopefully will continue to be well received and have a positive impact for years to come.
Documentation and Dissemination
This commission was featured in the publicart.ie video series which focuses on Per Cent for Art commissions. The video includes interviews with healthcare staff, HSE Estates, WHAT and artist Conall Cary. The video will be available to view on the publicart.ie Vimeo page in autumn 2021.
The commission was also highlighted and discussed during a panel conversation on Public Art in Healthcare with Conall Cary, Claire Meaney, Director of Waterford Healing Arts Trust, and George O’Neill, Project Manager for HSE Estates in the South East. The discussion formed part of the Arts and Health Conversation Series 2021 produced by artsandhealth.ie and can be viewed here.
The artworks have been photographed by both the artists and the architectural firm and will feature on their respective websites. The commission will also be submitted to the publicart.ie archive.
Conall Cary, Peter McMorris
Date of Publication
January 2019 – March 2020
Waterford Healing Arts Trust
Per Cent for Art Scheme
Conall Cary, Peter McMorris
Nature of project
Collaborative/ participatory, Public art commission