25th Anniversary Celebration at WHAT

We were thrilled to launch our 25th Anniversary year with a memorable premiere of Hospital VoicesA new choral work created by composer Eric Sweeney and poet Edward Denniston, Hospital Voices was created to mark WHAT’s 25 years and was developed in collaboration with patients and staff at UHW and performed by Waterford’s Madrigallery Chamber Choir, under the direction of Dr Kevin O’Carroll.

View this special performance here:

A special exhibition, A Celebration of Waterford Healing Arts Trust in 25 Objects, opened the same evening .

Wishing Balloons, by Brigid Teehan
Wishing Balloons, by Brigid Teehan

The 25th Anniversary of WHAT was attended by a capacity crowd which filled the UHW chapel, and all of whom were warmly welcomed by Claire Meaney, Acting Arts Director of Waterford Healing Arts Trust: “Through this celebration, we recognise and acknowledge the people of Waterford Healing Arts Trust; our founders, our Board members, our staff, artists, musicians, fundraisers, volunteers, members, the hospital management, our supporters, sponsors, healthcare partners and, especially, our audience and participants whether staff, patients or visitors and the many other people we meet along the path of our daily work.  This celebration is about you, our present and our past”.

Claire Meaney went on to say “We are thrilled that some of the founding members of the organisation are here tonight, including Dr Abdul Bulbulia and Mary Baxter.  We are also delighted to welcome Aifric Gray, who was our first Artist in Residence and who went on to become our first Arts Co-ordinator, and Mary Grehan, our Arts Director, who is currently seconded to the National Children’s Hospital Group”.  Acknowledging the funding which keeps the organisation running, Claire Meaney added “We are deeply grateful to our funders the HSE, the Arts Council, the Department of Social Protection, Waterford City and County Council, the National Lottery, The Ireland Funds and Punchestown Kidney Research Fund for their continued support”.

Claire Meaney added “I would like to express my sincere thanks to our poet Edward Denniston and composer Eric Sweeney for producing Hospital Voices, such a beautiful piece of work, and also heartfelt thanks to Choral Director Kevin O’Carroll, accompanist Siobhan Keappock, Madrigallery Chamber Choir and sound engineer Pat O’Connor.  I would also like to thank everyone who contributed to the creation of Hospital Voices: UHW staff, patients, volunteers and, especially, Breda, Brendan, Doireann, Edward, Heather, Henry, John, Margaret, Marie, Mary, Paddy and Tom.   A very special and unexpected outcome of this whole process was the discovery of Whitsuntide, by Henry Keogh, who Eric and Edward met during their residency.  We are very pleased to present Whitsuntide tonight for the first time, performed by Anne Woodworth, who is also the Chairperson of Waterford Healing Arts Trust.  And we are delighted to welcome Henry and his family here tonight.  Finally, a special word of thanks to Fr John Philip, for the use of the UHW chapel and for his tremendous ongoing support”.

Background info:
Hospital Voices came about through the WHAT Artist-in-Residence scheme.  Funded by the Arts Council, this programme aims to engage patients in contemporary arts practice and to provide an opportunity for artists to develop their professional practice within an acute hospital context.  This was the first time for WHAT to bring together two art forms under its Artist-in-Residence programme and was also the first time for the hospital to have a Composer-in-Residence.  For this project, Eric Sweeney and Edward Denniston invited patients and staff at UHW to share their memories of music and/or poetry through conversation and song.  In response to these, Edward wrote a series of poems which Eric then set to music.  The result is a rich, layered choral work, reflecting the contributions of the participants, as well as the artists’ own impressions and responses to the hospital setting.

A Celebration of Waterford Healing Arts Trust in 25 Objects, which also opened on 6 December at UHW, was a special exhibition reflecting the evolution of WHAT over the last 25 years and features a carefully curated collection, including paintings, sound recordings and sculptures.  The exhibition represented the landmark moments in the organisation’s development and the artworks produced through art programmes, artist residencies, public art commissions, exhibitions and music programmes, as well as the organisation’s national arts and health development work.

Waterford Healing Arts Trust (WHAT) is Ireland’s leading arts and health organisation.  Established in 1993, WHAT brings arts experiences to the bedsides of patients at University Hospital Waterford and other healthcare settings.  WHAT believes that the arts contribute to the wellbeing and vitality of society and that engaging with the arts stimulates the participant’s sense of identity and creativity.  WHAT supports the development of arts and health in Ireland and manages the national website www.artsandhealth.ie.