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Mrs Sabina Higgins officially launched Saolta Arts and Offset an intergenerational printmaking exhibition at UHG

Mrs Sabina Higgins has this week officially launched Saolta Arts, the new name for Galway University Hospitals Arts Trust.  Mrs Higgins also formally launched Offset, a new exhibition in University Hospital Galway.

The original arts programme was established in Galway University Hospitals (University Hospital Galway and Merlin Park University Hospital) in 2003 to provide art events and activities for the hospital community.

Saolta Arts, which was formally launched this week, is the new name for the arts programme which has been extended to include the other hospitals in the Saolta Group - Roscommon, Portiuncula, Mayo, Sligo and Letterkenny University Hospitals. The Arts and Health programme provides a multi-disciplinary programme of events and activities, including exhibitions, participative workshops, music, theatre and poetry making across the hospitals.

Speaking at the launch Mrs Higgins said, “The theme of place, its identity, and the sense of belonging and rootedness with which it provides us is something that the President and I return to frequently at events and in our addresses. It is one of the most fundamental human needs, and something with which we Irish have a deep resonance for a variety of reasons, including cultural and historical.

“The Offset exhibition being launched today is truly a celebration of some of the insights and contributions that both our youngest and oldest generations make to society. I wish to thank Saolta Arts and Saolta University Hospital Healthcare Group once again for their kind invitation today, and I look forward very much to viewing some of the stimulating, heart-warming and beautiful pieces on show.”

Margaret Flannery Saolta Arts Director commented, “Our participative arts programme is facilitated by professional artists who tailor workshops to the individual needs and interests of patients while drawing from their own arts practices. In Care for the Elderly and Rehabilitation contexts, this fosters what can still flourish when other things seem to be fading. The creative process promotes independence otherwise limited by ill health and the creative achievements of participants can help them to re-evaluate their abilities in the face of change.  In Paediatrics, our workshops nurture the imagination of young patients and their siblings to allay fears and make positive memories of their time in hospital.”

Chris Kane, General Manager Galway University Hospitals added, “Saolta Arts first brought visual art to the waiting rooms and corridors of Galway University Hospitals as an Arts Committee in 2003 with the long-term loan from the Hunt Collection, which comprised over 100 works of Modern Irish Art. Since then, we ensure that work created as part of the arts programme in both UHG and Merlin Park can be celebrated.  Our staff have also created artworks for permanent display in public areas and the UHG Arts Corridor is home to a rolling programme of exhibitions.

“The arts can create healthcare environments that are welcoming, reassuring, stimulating. Feedback from our patients and staff confirms the importance of the arts which humanises the clinical setting for everyone.”

Ann Cosgrove, Chief Operations Officer with the Saolta Group added, “There is growing recognition of the value and impact of the arts on health and wellbeing. For many years patients and staff at Galway University Hospitals have had access to and benefited from this.  Saolta Arts will now bring the arts programme to all the hospitals in our Group which will enhance the hospital environment for patients, staff and visitors. We are very grateful to Mrs Sabina Higgins for taking the time to join us and officially launch Saolta Arts on the Group’s behalf.”

The Offset project which was also launched, is an intergenerational print project orientated around experiments with printmaking practices of sharing and creating a sense of belonging and place. It is inspired by the principal of mutual benefit and exchange of tacit knowledge between generations and explores how we share experiences from a distance.

Margaret Flannery added “Offset began when printmaker Aoife Barrett visited the Connemara studio of renowned Aosdána artist, Margaret Irwin West. Both highly skilled artists with a passion for sharing printmaking with others, this was an opportunity for the artists to exchange their skills and experiences. We developed a programme for Paediatric outpatient waiting areas in response to staff feedback, which recognised that the siblings of young patients also spend significant time in hospital. In a series of waiting room workshops, children made editions of postcards as they waited for appointments and, in turn, doctors reported on the proud, smiling faces that entered their consultation rooms. Others received postcards thanking them for their excellent care.

“In Unit 5 at Merlin Park University Hospital, the printmaking process fostered memories, stories, and laughter. Dispatched through the post rooms of Galway University Hospitals, the handmade postcards were sent between friends and strangers, patients and staff – unexpected greetings and mementos to brighten someone’s day. The Offset exhibition shares a small selection of these cards as a heart-warming reminder of the small gestures that can make the hospital feel a lot more human. The exhibition documents the inspiration, artworks, messages, and interactions from the Offset project.”

“Offset was possible thanks to the on-going support of core funders Galway City Council; Galway County Council; Saolta University Health Care Group; the National Creativity Fund by the Creative Ireland Programme, an all-of-Government five-year initiative which places creativity at the centre of public policy; and the generosity and insights of artists Aoife Barrett and Margaret Irwin West and the patients and staff of Galway University Hospitals and coincides with the official relaunch of Galway University Hospitals Arts Trust as Saolta Arts.

“Postcards addressed to the other five hospitals of the Saolta University Health Care Group will be posted out at the end of the show, marking the official expansion across sites in Roscommon, County Galway (Ballinasloe), Sligo, Mayo and Donegal. The exhibition is a reminder of the significance of sharing, even if we seem to be not saying very much, and of the role the arts have in making the hospital more human”.

The exhibition will run until September 15 and is located on the Arts Corridor of University Hospital Galway.

The article above is specific to the following Saolta hospitals:: 
All Hospitals