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Birds and Beasts

As we come towards the close of Bealtaine, the celebrated basket maker from County Mayo, Joe Hogan who has been making baskets at Loch na Fooey since 1978 paid the residents of Bantry General Hospital, St.Josephs Unit, Care of the Elderly and Dunmanway Community Hospital a visit last week.

Since 2012, Joe has been making ‘nests’ which he shared with the residents, along with the techniques he employes to make his baskets, ‘The aim has not been to make copies of the nests of various species of birds but rather to make nest-like objects which prompt the feeling that we are looking at a bird’s nest and thus evoke some of the feelings of joy and wonder which might accompany the finding of nests in the wild.’

Joe’s visit sparked some lively conversations and sharing of experiences, ‘Joe was a wealth of knowledge and had a incredible ability to connect with every residents and staff member. Each person has something to contribute to the conversation – he brought a wonderful cohesiveness to the day’ described Sarah Cairns, Activites Coordinator at St.Joseph’s Unit.

The basketmakers visit was part of a new project by Artists Tess Leak and Sharon Whooley who are co-creating a Museum of Birds and Beasts with participants in 6 healthcare settings in West Cork as part of the Arts for Health Partnership Progamme. The artists are collaborating with the National Folklore Collection in Dublin and the Museum of Country Life in Mayo exploring the folklore and artefacts from these remarkable collections, to draw on participants experiences – working and living in connection with the natural world to create a legacy Muesum of Birds & Beasts.

The project is funded through an Arts Council Project Award and Arts for Health Partnership Programme, West Cork.