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Journey: Through Memories – An exhibition by members of the Raheen Hospital and Day Care Centre, Mountshannon, Co Clare

A group of more then 150 older people from East Clare, who for the first time in 70 or 80 years were encouraged to take up a pencil and allow their creativity to flow, have produced drawings, paintings, and works in clay, resulting in an engaging exhibition Journey: Through Memories. Artist Terry O’Farrrell, a member of the Irish Museum of Modern Art’s education team, was invited by the Iniscealtra Festival of the Arts to facilitate workshops over a two-month period with ten community groups at Raheen Day Care Centre and Residential Hospital, Co Clare, as part of IMMA’s Branching Out project which is supported by National Irish Bank. Members of the Raheen Hospital and Day Care Centre, Mountshannon, will present their exhibition to St Michael’s Parish Active Retirement Art Group, Inchicore, Dublin, on Wednesday 25 June at the newly-opened Aistear Centre in Mountshannon.

Since 1991, St Michael’s Parish Active Retirement Art Group have been involved in a broad range of programmes with IMMA, through its Education and Community Department, at local, national and international level. During that time they have exhibited both on site and in venues throughout the country. Starting in 2000 the Group participated in workshops with Terry O’Farrell in the Museum’s studios on a project exploring significant themes from their life experiences which resulted in the exhibition, Equivalence, earlier this year, which included paintings, drawings and works in clay.

This meeting between members of the Raheen Hospital and Day Care Centre, and St Michael’s Parish Active Retirement Art Group will give both groups the opportunity to share their experiences and explore the ideas presented in the exhibition. The importance of the role of older people in contemporary visual art is recognized in such collaborations. Pauline McNamara, Matron, Raheen Community Hospital, said “Terry O’Farrell came into our lives earlier this year – leaping, laughing, bounding, singing, shining, piercing our darkness in all things artistic – we the staff, patients and day visitors of Raheen Community Hospital will never be the same again. Research shows continuing creativity is possible in old age and negative attitudes towards capability and contributions of older people are a form of social discrimination. It was a completely new experience for our patients and Day Care Centre attendees and staff. The stimulus of an interested and supportive person helped them explore new avenues of creative self-expression and uncovered latent talents. At first, people needed gentle support and encouragement in order to overcome inhibitions, but within days that was gone and what talent ensued”.

Commenting on her experience working on the project Terry O’Farrell said: “I came to a centre, which has the feel of home and met staff who respect and support the lives that these older members of the community have lived. I invited people to draw a memory, to remember times past. There is a huge wealth here in the memories of the full lives lived and courage still in starting something new, in wanting to know more, willing to be open – continuing to explore”.

Branching Out is a programme designed by IMMA and National Irish Bank to be national, inclusive and participative, bringing the visual arts to the community and providing opportunities for the community to get involved. The National Programme is designed to create access opportunities to the visual arts in a variety of situations and locations in Ireland. Using the collection of the Irish Museum of Modern Art and exhibitions generated by the Museum, the National Programme facilitates the creation of exhibitions and other projects for display in a range of locations around the country.

Journey: Through Memories continues at the Aistear Centre, Mountshannon, Co Clare, until 26 June. The work can also be seen at IMMA as part of the Branching Out exhibition in January 2004.

For further information and colour images please contact Monica Cullinane at
Tel : +353 1 612 9900, Fax : +353 1 612 9999, Email [email protected]

11 June 2003