Open Gallery for community

Dementia-friendly art project at WHAT
Open Gallery, an art viewing project for people living with dementia, and their family members/carers, takes place at Waterford Healing Arts Trust on Thursday 19 September at 2.30pm.  Open Gallery invites participants to look at, discuss and enjoy paintings from the University Hospital Waterford (UHW) art collection in a safe and welcoming space, supported by professional artists.  Admission is free, but space is limited so places should be booked by contacting WHAT on (051) 842664 / what@hse.ie

In each Open Gallery session, three paintings from the UHW art collection are discussed by the participants.  These paintings usually have a theme, for example, landscapes, portraits, colour etc.  Each session lasts about one hour and finishes with a cup of tea and a lively discussion.  Participants do not have to know anything about art or to have any experience visiting art galleries.  The sessions are about making observations, describing, building connections and enjoying art together.  Open Gallery is facilitated by professional artists Caroline Schofield – who has trained in delivering such dementia-friendly workshops and was Artist-in-Residence at WHAT/UHW in 2016 – and Jill Bouchier, who has facilitated art programmes at WHAT and UHW for many years.  Open Gallery is supported by the consultant geriatricians, occupational therapists and nursing staff at UHW and WICOP (Waterford Integrated Care for Older People).

Developed and piloted in 2018, Open Gallery is inspired by the internationally renowned and evaluated Meet Me at MoMA programme of dementia-friendly art viewing workshops, devised by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and introduced to Ireland as the Azure Programme by the Butler Gallery in Kilkenny, in collaboration with Age and Opportunity, The Alzheimer Society of Ireland and IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art).  The pilot phase of Open Gallery was funded by Waterford City and County Council.  The project is now funded by the Hospital Saturday Fund and the Arts Council.

Announcing details of the project, Claire Meaney, Acting Arts Director of Waterford Healing Arts Trust said “We are delighted to be in a position to open this very special project up to the wider community in Waterford.  We began Open Gallery in 2018 on a pilot basis and the response has been really positive.  The sessions have been enjoyable and have supported people living with dementia to enjoy art and to create new memories with their family members and carers.  We are really fortunate to have access to a superb art collection at UHW, so we’re really looking forward to welcoming more people from the community to WHAT to begin, or continue, an interest in art.”

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

Photo by Jason Brownrigg, courtesy Museum of Modern Art

ENDS