The Sacred Heart Lockdown Choices Curated work from Ballinglen Arts Foundation

Tinka Bechert

Runs from 1 December 2020 until 17 January 2021

This is a show curated by a diverse and eclectic group of people, all united by this lockdown experience and a love for art. A selection of paintings was brought digitally to the patients and staff of the Sacred Heart Hospital in Castlebar; the enthusiasm was infectious and the joy as people made their choices was a real revelation. This is the importance of bringing work of artistic excellence to those in a health setting.

There was a sense of validation that participant’s opinions were important and relevant. The act of choosing personally gives a sense of empowerment of selecting what you want, not for personal gain but a wish for your aesthetic to be shared; this is a very significant and creative process that was embraced by the patient and staff team from the Sacred Heart Hospital.

I have worked as an artist in residence with the Sacred Heart for over 10 years. In this context I facilitate the patients in making their own works of art, which are then hung on the walls of the hospital or curated into art exhibitions that appear in art centres and elsewhere. Due to the lockdown the arts program has been put on hold so this opportunity to engage with the arts from a curatorial perspective was grasped by the patients. The staff who have been great supporters of the patients’ art, have missed seeing the regular arts activities within the hospital and were very excited to get involved.

The work has been selected from the Ballinglen Arts Foundation and Museum in Ballycastle Co Mayo, an artistic treasure trove that was made available to this exciting project. The Ballinglen Arts Foundation has provided a large number of residencies for national and international artists; the art produced is mostly informed by the north Mayo landscape and each artist donates a piece of art to the foundation at the end of their residency.

The longlist of work was collated by Luke O’Donnell and myself Tom Meskell; through an outreach program this collection was brought to the patients and staff of the hospital. The collection was presented in an online gallery which participants could access online then email their selection to me; of those that could not access the online work were shown images the work on a one to one basis by myself and they would make their choices that way.

I wish to thank Una Forde from Ballinglen and her fantastic team. We also wish to acknowledge the support from SHH Manager Carole King and all the patients and staff, and finally to the Westival team and the Customs House Studios we thank you for your vision and commitment to engaging the people of Mayo in high quality artistic experiences. 

Tom Meskell

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Current Exhibitions

‘Selected’ by the 2022 Graduates, BA in Contemporary Art Practices, Atlantic Technological University, Mayo Campus.
Exhibition runs from 7th July – 1st August 2022.

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