This is the third year that I have the pleasure to run a ten-week print workshop in psychiatric unit in Tallaght Hospital through the National Gallery of Ireland’s Access and Outreach program.
During the ten weeks we worked with drypoint on perspex, copper sulphate etching, collograph and a great assortment of materials that could stimulate and intrigue curiosity and creative thinking. All levels of artistic experience and backgrounds came together in our workshops. It was always very important to reinforce, a. that the workshop was about trying alternative ways and materials of expression; b. we didn’t work with the concept of right/wrong, good/bad but what one could express at that very moment.
Moreover the workshops included a guided tour in the National Gallery of Ireland where participants discussed color, composition and expression for example in works by Picasso, Caravaggio, Mainie Jellet, and Lionel Feininger. At the end of the ten weeks, participants had their works exhibited in the prestigious National Gallery of Ireland.
Due to its complex technical aspects, printmaking has been proved to be a very engaging and rewarding activity for those who suffer or are recovering from an illness. The nature of printmaking is based on elements of mystery, discovery and surprise which can be very stimulating and positively create a demand for concentration. The weekly sessions helped them regain an identity outside their illness and aided a sense of well being.
The exhibition in such a place as the National Gallery was of great importance to relocate the participants’ focus outside the hospital’s art room and its associations. It was key to their motivation to envisage their creativity and expression being displayed in an art gallery. A sign of appreciation, respect, and inclusion.
My sincere thanks to Brina Casey (Education Officer National Gallery of Ireland), Mary Bourke (Head of Education Department National Gallery of Ireland) and Catherina Brady (St Lomas – Tallaght Hospital) for kindly organizing and supporting this incredible project.