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Artists – Michael Greenlaw, Sarah Ruttle and Michael Ray

Inspired by Tea

Skibbereen Day Care Centre, Clonakilty, Castletownbere, Dunmanway, Schull Community Hospitals and Bantry General Hospital, Care of the Elderly Unit

Bantry Tea Party, vintage cup and drawn saucer - Copy

Since the inception of the Arts for Health Programme, there have been many conversations shared over a cup of tea. This important ritual of refreshment is built into the routines at all of the healthcare settings, so quite naturally has become the focus of artistic investigation for several artists. Below are three interpretations of this inspiring cultural and social activity, in 2017/8.


Tea Party 

Skibbereen Day Care Centre with Michael Greenlaw

The participants began by using a variety of pencils to draw vintage cups, saucers and teapots. Next, they created designs for spoons, cups and saucers using cut card templates. Lastly, using various “ink art” techniques such as pipette ink dropping, paper tipping and ink blowing, a circular aperture was laid over the “ink art” so that participants could choose which part of the image to cut out to make the best paper plate. These templates were then folded, transforming the 2D designs into 3D sculptures resembling finished cups and saucers.

The finished card teacups, painted spoons and “ink art” plates were composed as spacial drawing around their day centre, creating a performative installation effect around the event.

This short project concluded with a tea party where the Day Care Centre Co-ordinator had commissioned a delicious cake especially for the occasion, which was enjoyed along with a nice cup of tea, drunk out of the vintage cups and saucers.


Tales, Tears and Tea

Castletownbere Day Care Centre with Sarah Ruttle

The group at Castletownbere initiated this project with the desire to explore new methods of working in textiles. The artist set the challenge began by introducing needle and wet felting wool techniques. Exploring the techniques in a general way to see how the process of felting worked, each participant creating an individual panel. When the wet felt panel was complete needle felting was added to create more controlled and finer detail.

Whilst making, the group shared thoughts on the making of Tea and how it centred around everyone’s experience of giving and receiving hospitality between family, friends and strangers giving rise to how the project idea was to develop. From here, it was decided that each of the individual panels would be combined to create a group piece in the form of a teapot.

Transition year students from Scoil Phobail Bheara who came to engage with the Day Care participants also sampled the felt making to contribute to the project. 

Each person completed the eight-week project having created an apart of the large-scale teapot sculpture for the exhibit at the Centre and a sampler of their own work to take home.

Before taking its pride of place in the daycare the teapot sculpture was exhibited as part of Uillinn; West Cork Arts Centre’s Bealtaine exhibition in May 2018.


Píosa obair

Clonakilty Community Hospital with Sarah Ruttle and Michael Ray

Porcelain clay offers a different experience than grey or red clay. The smooth and creamy textured material is strong and holds fine detail well. Residents at Clonakilty were offered the opportunity to experience porcelain clay, to experiment and try out various hand building methods, some with the aid of simple moulds that could enable the group to make objects that they could later design with their own drawings.

A series of clay objects, some fired and some glazed were created by the participants and while there was no fixed theme or direction from the artists, many people were drawn to replicate the familiar teacup and saucer. Seeing this trend, the artists brought in images of traditionally decorated china to inspire ideas for a series of drawings. The drawings were replicated and printed onto ceramic transfer paper which the participants then applied to the glazed surface of their pieces.