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Beyond the Darkness

During the spring, Arts for Health artist Sarah Ruttle undertook a research and development project with the aim of exploring new creative approaches for working with people with visual impairments, building on current methods of inclusive and creative engagement.

Participants on the Arts for Health programme at Schull Community Hospital were invited to take part in three one-to-one sessions with Sarah, working together creatively and discussing the effects of visual impairment. Sarah said of the experience, ‘Being able to sit with participants and have open and honest conversations about the impact of vision loss has been humbling while being incredibly inspiring seeing how participants have adjusted and conquered the challenges they’ve come across.’

The invited participants explored sensory and tactile pieces inspired by the West Cork islands. These included a textured fabric artwork, and sensory pockets filled with sea shells, seaweed, and driftwood, introducing sound and smell to the project.

Inspired by an ‘In Conversation…’ discussion with Christopher Bailey, Arts and Health lead at the World Health Organisation, as well as the positive response to uses of sound in her research so far, Sarah created an audio work to share with participants. 

Here is a short excerpt from the piece:

Standing still as a statue you can listen to the whistle of the grass, dancing in the morning breeze. Like a simmering orchestra the horizon echos with the billowing pillows of clouds on the rippling water. Shimmers of light reflect on the water as the waves dance in the morning light.

Sharing this audio work brought new life to the conversation, while Sarah also discovered that going back to basics, meeting individual’s needs, and finding out what people love continues to produce a celebration of creative collaborations.

Sarah shared her findings with the Arts for Health team in September, and continues to develop and include her learnings in her current Arts for Health work.

Photos by Sarah Ruttle.