Staff and residents of two community hospitals imagined an Ireland of the future as it might have been imagined 100 years ago in 1916. The artists aim was to work collaboratively with the participants to create a number of large-scale paper cut-out images to be placed throughout the hospitals as part of the 1916 centenary commemorations; unfolding their vision of the future, for themselves and their families past and present.
Sarah Ruttle visited each hospital three times, inviting conversation, stories and song. The parachute theme emerged when a participant told the artist that “I’d have a parachute at the back door in my purse“.
Each of the hospitals had at least one artist from the team, in residence working weekly on the wards through the partnership programme. In Dunmanway Community Hospital, was Colm Rooney (visual artist), and in Castletownbere Community Hospital, Tess Leak (visual artist/musician) and Liz Clark (Musician and Songwriter). The artist in residence already knew the participants, shortening the ‘getting to know’ time with participants for project artist Sarah Ruttle.
Sarah has a significant interest in collaborative practice and ethics and was keen that each participant’s voice was portrayed with honesty and integrity. She communicated her process clearly at the outset for all involved. Her approach aimed to create a space that welcomed all the diverse residents of the hospital, being inclusive of those living with dementia and stroke and respite patients.
Conversation evolved with participants sharing personal experiences of living rural life, from the Bere Island postman to the digging of the roads beyond Dunmanway to get the news through. This dialogue then informed the visuals and the artwork for each hospital, which Sarah constructed during a three-week studio residency at Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre.
A series of large scale paper cut-outs that reflected the dialogue were installed in the two hospitals in collaboration with the participants and staff at each location. The cutouts, or ‘parachutes’ were made using recycled newspaper articles featuring events of the past 100 years. The artworks remained in situ from September until December, with each hospital celebrating the installation of these works as part of Culture Night 2016.
June to December 2016
Artist: ‘What is it like for you when we come into the ward and ask you questions about your life?‘ Josie: ‘You are full of life and cheerful in yourself.’ Artist: ‘The stories you share are extraordinary and intriguing to us.‘ Josie (smiling, seems amused): ‘… That was just the way it was, it’s nothing to us…[but] we understand that you don’t understand … everybody is learning something new every day.’
This project had additional support through an Ireland 2016 Cork County Council grant and a three week residency at Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre.