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Bealtaine Exhibition 2017  
Celebrating creativity as we age
5 May – 11 June 2017
West Cork Arts Centre are celebrating this year's Bealtaine Festival with a multidisciplinary exhibition showcasing the many programmes and projects with older people that take place at the Centre and throughout the region. Involving nine facilitating artists, working in twelve venues, through both Arts for Health and Arts for an Active Mind programmes, this multidisciplinary exhibition includes poetry, music, painting, drawing, sculpture and glasswork reflecting the creative experiences of the many participants. 
Bealtaine is the Irish national arts festival, celebrating creativity as we age, that takes place countrywide each May. It is coordinated by Age & Opportunity, the national organisation working to promote greater participation by older people in society. West Cork Arts Centre has been a partner since the festival was established in 1996. 
Landscapes in Relief

A series of collaged rural landscapes by participants attending Arts for an Active Mind course with artist Paul Cialis. Arts for an Active Mind programme is made up of 12 participants, who meet each Monday morning to explore the possibilities of contemporary visual art.

Radiophone is an interactive installation where visitors are invited to pick up the old-style telephone, dial a number, and listen to tracks created and recorded by older people in residential care settings working with singer-songwriter Liz Clark and musician and composer, Justin Grounds. As part of the same project, you can ask to be put 'On Hold' when phoning Reception and you will hear a live recording of 'Gramophone' by the Starlings' Song Band, created in collaboration with residents at West Cork Community Hospitals. This collaborative project was realised in May 2017 by Toma McCullim, Justine Foster, Marie Laure Haas, Liz Clark, Justin Grounds and technician Moritz Muller. The Radiophone will be installed in one of the hospitals after this exhibition. 
Track list includes: Unfurling and Gramophone by the Starlings' Song Band.  Tojo’s Lullaby with Justin Grounds and Clonakilty Day Care Centre.  Songs of Springtime Flowers with Justin Grounds and Sonas ward in Clonakilty hospital.  
In the Company of Friends

"I really enjoyed it. It passed the time. I like the company too."  "...and I like the company",  "We all became friends"  A conversation at the close of a session where the project title was born. Residents of Castletownbere Community Hospital were introduced to various painting techniques by artist Sharon Dipity in this six week project. Participants were encouraged to work intuitively, drawing on their own experiences and taking inspiration from Beara artist Frieda Meaney whose work was on exhibit at Uillinn at this time. The project was a continuation of layered art works (‘Emerging stories’) that Sharon developed with artist Sarah Ruttle in 2015. 
Sitting Up

Sitting Up is a collection of chair artworks created by the students on this year’s Arts for Health 'Art Participation for Healthcare Professionals' QQI course. Ten students were tasked with re-purposing this everyday object to reflect some aspect of physical or mental health. The resulting chairs express a wide range of themes from ' the only thing I can do to help now is to make tea' to 'musical chairs'.   


 ‘The only way to get anything done in the house was to start it yourself and make a mess of it. He’d wade in then and say “Come out of that, I’ll do it”. He was a genius with woodwork. He did all the wardrobes in the bedrooms and worktops in the kitchen and things like that.’  J.McG (participant) 
Residents of St.Joseph’s Unit, Bantry General Hospital worked with artist Sharon Dipity and Activities Co-ordinator Sarah Cairns on ‘Toolbox’ project, 2016 -2017. Beginning with the greatly enjoyed mono-prints and pencil drawings referencing other artists work around this theme, the group developed into the making of an interactive, sensory toolbox. Inspiration also came from a familiar collection of vintage woodworking tools. 
Sarah Cairns says of the sensory Toolbox: “Aside from the obvious attraction for people that worked with tools throughout their lives, we saw the opportunity with this project to double up as a sensory box. Thomas Aquinas (c1225 – 1274) said “The senses are a kind of reason.  Taste, touch and smell, hearing and seeing, are not merely a means to sensation, enjoyable or otherwise, but they are also a means to knowledge – and are, indeed, your only actual means to knowledge.” It is with these senses that we experience and know our surroundings and in the environment of nursing homes and care centres, these sensory projects are greatly appreciated and even more vital. With this in mind we wanted to squeeze as many sensory items covering as many senses as possible on and in our toolbox. We obtained tools that were made 100 years ago most of them wooden, and witnessed people  using the tools with memories stored in another part of our brains/bodies remembering and teaching us the appropriate ways of holding them (like a well-trodden pathway that has overgrown that has made its way again.)
Six works by residents of Skibbereen Community Hospital alongside Frieda Meaney artwork.

Working from Craniata by Frieda Meaney, residents at Skibbereen Community Hospital created a series of works exploring similar themes with artist and facilitator Toma McCullim.  The painting was on loan to the hospital coinciding with an exhibition at Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre entitled Landmarks and Lifeforms by Danny Osborne and Frieda Meaney, two artists who live and work on the Beara Peninsula.  The artists' interests in geology, biology, marine science and zoology as well as travel and navigation is presented in the exhibition through painting, print, video installation and sculpture, combining scientific with artistic interpretations of the natural world. The participants picked up on Frieda Meaney’s themes of a natural ecosystem of plants, animals and micro-organisms functioning together within the environment. They explored her images of living and extinct marine, terrestrial and airborne creatures in a way that blurs the lines between their respective realms to create work that portrays an idealistic and imaginative environment. 
Conor's Catch

During 2016 Colm Rooney and Sarah Ruttle worked with residents at Clonakilty Hospital to create a short animated film depicting an imaginative life story of Nora and Conor. This collaborative project was an opportunity for all participants to get involved in all aspects of the production from narrative writing and making the imagery to choosing the music and sound to illustrate the story. The manual work of editing was completed each week by Colm with progress presented each week so all could see their work evolve week on week and give their editorial directions. 
In Yonder Garden Grows  

People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us!, Iris Murdoch, writer 
During the spring and summer of 2016, connecting participants in Castletownbere, Clonakilty and Bantry Hospitals, artist Tess Leak collaborated on a poetry, music and flowers project. Each week Tess took in armfuls of flowers from The Glebe Gardens in Baltimore to inspire lively and thoughtful conversations that lead to the making of these poems. Musician Liz Clark brought flower-themed songs into the sessions and, that winter, Tess worked with designer Orlagh O’Brien from Haiku Island Press to create by hand this limited edition book. 
The Wren, The Song-thrush and The Robin

These three short poems were created by participants on the Arts for Health Partnership Programme in Clonakilty Hospital in collaboration with artist Tess Leak. Inspired by Haiku, the poetic form originally from Japan, the poems evolved out of lively conversations about the participants experiences and knowledge of the birds local to their homes and farmlands in West Cork. The significant use of bright red hue is intended to enhance the reading experience for people experiencing cognitive differences and memory loss. With dementia and memory loss, colour perception can be altered, with the greatest difficulty being differentiating colours in the blue-violet spectrum. Red is thought to be the easiest colour for people with Alzheimer's disease to perceive. This work has been in situ at Uillinn since 2015 


Arts for Health is a partnership programme based in West Cork implementing a managed arts programme for older people in healthcare settings. The partners are West Cork Arts Centre, Cork County Council, Cork Education & Training Board and the HSE. The HSE is represented through the Cork Arts + Health Programme, the Health Promotion Department, the Nursing Directors of Community Hospitals and the Day Care Centres, West Cork. 

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