One hundred older people attending the Skibbereen Day Care Centre have been busy working with glass and digital art techniques recently with artist Michael Ray, an award winning visual artist living in West Cork, transferring photographs of themselves and handwritten extracts of conversations into six colourful interconnected glass panels.
This latest project to come out of Arts for Health West Cork evolved from an idea to try an include all 100 local residents attending Skibbereen day care centre in one single connecting project and it has been a huge success.
Spearheaded by the HSE’s day care centre coordinator Mary Willis, this collaborative project is as much about the conversation and sharing as it is about the making of the artwork as Sam Kingston, a participant on the project commentated ‘lots of stories we discussed and many laughs we had’. Hannah French observed on working with glass, ‘it gives me great pride to know we are capable of learning something new at this stage in our lives’. Many of the budding artists have lived in other countries and have had diverse occupations such as island midwifery, Scotch whisky distilling and barrage balloon operations. The completed artwork takes pride of place as a permanent display in the Day Care Centre.
Artist Michael Ray remarked on the project at the official launch ‘This project has given me a fascinating insight into people who have lived incredibly diverse and rewarding lives, I feel honoured to have facilitated this project with them.’
Today it is widely recognised that participation in arts activities contributes to health and well-being. Research from many different parts of the world demonstrates the crucial importance for older people of maintaining a connected social network and the need for stimulating, challenging creative activity to combat cognitive decline, poor health and even premature mortality. Experience and research gained in healthcare centres in many parts of the world also demonstrate that arts in healthcare programmes can be cost-effective in reducing demand on medical resources and infrastructure.
Welcoming this latest initiative, Cork County Council Arts Officer, Ian McDonagh said, “This artwork serves as a reminder of the latent creativity that everyone possesses, and which can be most effectively realised when participants have an opportunity to work collaboratively with a practicing artist in a supportive environment.”
Arts for Health partnership programme is based in West Cork and provides a managed and integrated arts programme for older people in healthcare settings. It takes place in five Community Hospitals, Bantry General Hospital Care of the Elderly Unit and five Day Care Centres.
Managed by West Cork Arts Centre, Arts for Health runs all year round and is delivered by team of professional artists from different disciplines.