Ecology in Art Therapy



Crawford College of Art and Design, Cork

MA Art Therapy Seminar

Making a Scene in Public

Information for Participants

This workshop will investigate the creation of land art within the nature of public spaces. Working with found and natural materials in outdoor studio areas, artworks will relate to both personal and collective themes. Therapeutic situations will be encountered en route through the examination of outdoor habitats. We will consider how art therapy can be choreographed through spontaneous relations with the environment. Artworks will be both site specific and transportable, assembling ingredients of location in an attempt to enact the energies of participants and the character of place.

Workshop Themes 

Art Therapy Out of Bounds, Social Environments, Land Art, Choreography of Space, The Artistry of Location, Enactments, Habitats

Art Therapy and Visual Culture

Street Art

30th Anniversary Issue of the Canadian Art Therapy Association Journal

Read my Editorial 

This journal issue is about art therapy being forthright about its capacity to inhabit the public domain. It encourages art therapy to return home to the profession’s roots in visual art, where studios, artist materials, and collaborations among artist peers prevailed. The issue also explores the significance of galleries, exhibitions and art history within art therapy.


Read: Art Therapist Facilitated Open Studio Versus Colouring: Differences in Outcomes of Affect, Stress, Creative Agency and Self-Efficacy by Girija Kaimal, Janell L. Mensinger, Jessica Drass, Rebekka Dieterich-Hartwell

Read: Exploring the Museum’s Images-Exploring My Image by Aphrodite Pantagoutsou, Elisabeth Ioannides, Grigoris Vaslamatzis

Creating Community and Shattering Stigma: Collaborative Arts Interventions for the Forensic Population by Jaimie Peterson and Alison Etter

Standing Tall: Students Showcase Resiliency through Body Tracings by Marygrace Berberian

Public Practice Art Therapy: Enabling Spaces Across North America by Janis Timm-Bottos

ROUTES, Arts Therapies NI



ROUTES is a day of celebration by Arts Therapies Northern Ireland in partnership with Ulster University, Belfast School of Art.

The day will be a tribute to the roots of arts therapy in Northern Ireland and also the routes to new opportunities. Art, music and drama therapists will highlight both the history and potential of the arts therapies in Northern Ireland. This inaugural event will be of interest to arts, health, and education professionals as well as allied practitioners.

Groundswell will assist with the creation of interactive surroundings and contribute a performance enhancing collectivity. As a day of festivity, all participants will ignite this occasion with their artistry, words and social movements.

Art Therapy and Environment



The Canadian Art Therapy Association Journal has produced a special issue called Art Therapy and Environment. In this issue environment is defined broadly and includes compelling and thought provoking articles from Canadian and international art therapists and allied professionals.

Read my Editorial 


Art Therapy Caves: Linking Community Art to a Therapeutic Space  by Cora H. McLachlan

Global Action Art Therapy: Cross-Cultural Experiences in South Korea by Seung Yeon Lee

Garden as Canvas: Therapeutic Metaphors in a Children’s Garden by Carol Knibbe & Petrea Hansen-Adamidis

Read: A Natural Response to a Natural Disaster: The Art of Crisis in Nepal by Jess Linton

The Flowers of Compassion: A Trauma-Informed Artistic Event Involving Three Generations of Slovenians by Katarina Kompan Erzar

Access the Canadian Art Therapy Association Journal


Public Relations: Art and Social Enactment



Public Relations: Art and Social Enactment is the title of a seminar at the National College of Art and Design, Department of Visual Culture. Participatory arts, co-production, and activism will feature in this seminar that examines the potential of art that seeks relationships with others. Through artistic collectivity, partnerships and collaborations with the general public, there emerges a sense of social enterprise that makes art happen out-in-the-open and in relation to social contexts and the diverse experience of participants.

Public Relations is also the title of a series of blog posts that will accompany course participants as they develop team-led projects enacting theories and practices of collectivity in the production of art for the people.

Terms of Reference/Participatory Arts, Community Arts, Socially Engaged Arts, Activist Arts, Interventionist Arts, Social Practice, Guerrilla and Street Arts, Collaborations and Co-Productions

Public Relations = Actions promoting the creation of goodwill.

A Celtic Garden



A Celtic Journey: The Spirit of Nature is an environmental challenge for primary school students to design a community garden based on their interpretation of a Celtic garden. The reference book for this project is The Garden Awakening: Designs to Nurture our Land and Ourselves by inspiring Irish garden designer and Chelsea gold winner Mary Reynolds who declares that ‘we need a green-fingered revolution to bring nature back into the garden’.

Mother Earth Print from the Garden Awakening by Ruth Evans

An Apothecary Garden

An Apothecary Garden for Ardee Educate Together primary school students that grows remedies for both body and mind. Students researched the curative properties of plants grown in Ireland and throughout the world. The garden accompanies local biodiversity research and generates a fascination with nature as an elixir of life.


Either Way, Make a Move

Omeath Fade


Either Way, Make a Move

School of Arts Education and Movement
Dublin City University, Institute of Education

The classroom as a happening is about animated learning. A situation is created whereby students re-define their educational surroundings. It is subject to flexibility. Art in this sense is related to environment, an atmosphere, and a studio of ideas. Happenings were first introduced by the artist Allan Kaprow. They are experiences where art, physical action, sound, words and environment are assembled within a specific time frame to promote participation and improvisation.

Classroom as Art Studio
Teaching as Performance
Teacher and Students as Artist Collective
Social Choreography in School
Students as Curators
Education as a Happening

What of It?



A fim about older men taking to the street with stories from now and then.

There is graffiti.

The making of scenes.

Social Movements.

Declarations by word and song.

Anti-Stereotypical Behaviour.


These are Dundalk stories.

A town like any other town in Ireland, but different.

An Táin Arts Centre is supporting the production of What of It? in collaboration with the Dundalk Men’s Shed, film maker Steven Larkin, graffiti artist Barry Finnegan, performance poet Jinx Lennon, composer Patrick Connolly and Pamela Whitaker of Groundswell.

Words That Move Us

Science Gallery


A mental health event at Creative Spark, that was part of First Fortnight 2017. The First Fortnight Festival “is a space in the cultural calendar where citizens can be inspired through arts events and experiences to talk about mental health issues in a non-scripted manner” (

Words That Move Us was a path of movement inspired by metaphors and idioms related to resolutions for the new year. Participants walked a route of messages that related to purpose and determination. Their line of passage incorporated objects and actions that set up a pathway of intention with the goal of trying something different.

Antidote + Wellness

antidote logo final web2


The well factor of the arts.

An Táin Arts Centre and Droichead Arts Centre showcased art, music, poetry and theatre events in recognition of World Mental Health Day.

Participants included Quintessence Theatre, Dundalk Youth Centre, Music Generation, Spoken Word Dundalk, Creative Spark, Pangur Ban Productions, Groundswell, and environmental artist Úna Curley.

Groundswell presented a workshop called Antidotes: Tonics and Energies for Mind and Body. These existential remedies promoted vitality and determination for a variety of conditions—uncertainty, fatigue, disheartenment and disillusionment.

in:Action Irish Live Art Review

Our Story of Resistance

Vickey Curtis is a spoken word artist. Her performance A Rose By Any Other Name spoke the language of street harassment in the course of a walk from the Spire to Rathmines in Dublin. Read a witnessing of her performance that was part of the Dublin Live Art Festival 2016 in:Action/Irish Live Art Review.


Along the Walking Route, A Rose by Any Other Name by Vickey Curtis, Dublin Live Art Festival, August 14, 2016. Photograph by Blue Print Photography.

Raw Material



Art Therapy Students from Emporia State University (Kansas) at Airfield Gardens, Dublin

A workshop for MA art therapy students from Emporia State University was conducted at Airfield Gardens, Dublin. The workshop entitled Raw Material examined art therapy themes related to the raw materials of fibre, nature, and cloth and their connection to narrative. The students were accompanied by Dr. Joan Phillips (University of Oklahoma, School of Art and Art History) and Dr. Gaelynn Wolf Bordonaro (Director of the Emporia State University Art Therapy Program).




A workshop for the Northern Ireland Group for Art as Therapy (NIGAT) Summer School 2016 with a focus on fibre arts in art therapy. Edgelands was situated on Torr Head, overlooking the Mull of Kintyre, and invited participants to respond to both a dramatic coastline and the ruins of an abandoned signal station once used as a communication point for transatlantic ships. The NIGAT Summer School is an annual residential course taking place at the Corrymeela Centre, Ballycastle (County Antrim).

Medieval Garden Challenge



Photo Little Garden of Paradise by Upper Rhenish Master, 1410

The theme for the 2016 environmental challenge for primary schools in County Louth was ‘A Medieval Garden’. Nine primary schools participated from throughout the county, each cultivating their unique interpretation of a medieval garden and implementing a day of environmental action to promote their project. The Medieval Garden Challenge involved children in the research, design, cultivation and promotion of gardens that reflected both a specific historical period and positive environmental practices.

A medieval garden was typically cultivated near a castle, monastery or manor house. It combined plants for health, food, and natural dyes. Herbs, vegetables, fruit trees, and flowers were all featured in these gardens that grew both essential plants and plants for the senses and contemplation.

Each school will be mentored in their production of a medieval garden and their organisation of a public event launching their garden for the community.

Dublin City University, School of Arts Education and Movement



Story Festival

A workshop for student primary school teachers at Dublin City University, School of Arts Education and Movement and primary school students inspired by a UNICEF Ireland campaign titled It’s About Us. Acting as collaborators student teachers and children enacted an uprising related to social issues of mutual importance.

The theme of the workshop was championing social change. It’s About Us focused on children’s capacity to become social activists in relation to issues that affected their own lives and also the lives of their peers internationally. “We are voicing our concerns and initiating action, not only to influence the present but also to take responsibility for our shared future” (Dublin Declaration of Children and Youth 2014).

Lay Your Cards on the Table


An Event for the First Fortnight Festival, 2016

Groundswell and the Dundalk Library

The First Fortnight Festival challenges mental health prejudice through the visual arts and “unscripted conversations to change people’s perceptions about the ordinary experience of a mental health problem and the less ordinary experience of mental ill health” (

Lay Your Cards on the Table offered visitors to Dundalk Library the opportunity to produce condensed visual journals on a selection of playing cards. A chance to share accounts of daily living, bits of advice, and heart-to-heart messages. The playing card journals were shared as gifts, hidden in the library, traded, or retained as keepsakes.



A library, as an archive of human experience, is one of the most democratic spaces to explore stories in relation to mental health. A place for reflection, knowledge, debate and communication, a library represents the diversity of the human condition within its collections.


This event was accompanied by a bibliotherapy display compiled from a selection of self-help books and literary reads evoking themes related to mental health.

Dancing with Words



Poems can provide inspiration for dance within indoor and outdoor healthcare environments. Lines of poetry inform movement sequences typically developed as duets between service users and their carers. The poems are inscribed on tactile art materials, which are then incorporated into participant led dances. Dancing with Words was a series of workshops within disability support services.




Wildcrafting is a philosophy and method of assembling foraged natural materials into artworks. An Táin Arts Centre and Groundswell are presenting a Wildcrafting workshop for families to celebrate winter forests, hedgerows, and native plants. The ethos of the workshop is how to integrate nature into family homes, and each family will be encouraged to create a home based art environment that will act as both a studio and interactive surrounding. Families will work as collaborative artists, each family member contributing their unique compositions to a resulting domestic art installation. Suspended art forms and sculptural shapes will be the main focus of the wildcrafting experience. The goal of wildcrafting is to seek out wild experiences in nature, and to craft these encounters into forms that accompany daily life.




Public artworks for celebrations and festivity compliment outdoor seasonal events. Coming together to mark the passing of summer, daylight and the growing season is traditionally associated with the Irish festival of Samhain (beginning each year on October 31st). Also known as the Celtic New Year, the rituals of this season incorporate letting go and cultivating aspirations for the coming months of darkness. Public gatherings and processions incorporating environmental artworks, poetry and music have been produced to celebrate Samhain within community playgrounds and within the grounds of therapeutic care centres.


The Forest Studio




Land Art is an intriguing form of contemporary art which works within a variety of natural environments, transforming living materials into distinct compositions. The forest studio offers many ways to perceive nature, and to structure these perspectives into a variety of artworks that explore lines, shapes, dimensions, and patterns found in the natural world.

The art, craft and design students of O’Fiaich College (Dundalk, County Louth) undertake an annual trip to Ravensdale Forest to produce artworks using foraged natural materials. It’s an opportunity to explore working with both found organic materials for mark making (i.e. mud, grass, sticks, berries, flowers, and charcoal) and to also investigate working with larger sculptural forms that evoke the idea of shelter within forest habitats.




Urban Art Encounters and Guerrilla Land Art

Supported by An Táin Arts Centre and Dundalk Youth Centre

A workshop for young people interested in making street art and trying out guerrilla art tactics. Urban Art Encounters offered an opportunity for three primary school classes to become street artists making artworks that reached out to others through pop-up encounters. Photography, message writing, and land art were explored within a variety of outdoor locations.





Art Therapy Supervision and Mentoring

Art therapy supervision can be arranged through Skype sessions or through on-site appointments. Supervision will combine art making, applications of theory to current practice, and discussions of case studies. Supervision appointments can be scheduled on a monthly basis, or periodically throughout the year if used to supplement ongoing work supervision sessions. Topics related to art therapy in outdoor settings, celebrations and events, arts and health, contemporary art practices and movement studies can be pursued through specific supervision sessions both on-line and through direct meetings.

Distance Learning and Consultation

Contributions to art therapy courses through distance learning via Skype, blogs, on-line articles and student mentoring can also be arranged.

Poster Heading Animal Architecture


Animal Architecture was a series of pop-up workshops at Stephenstown Pond (Knockbridge, County Louth) where children and their families made imaginary dwellings for animals using foraged natural materials. The artworks took the form of small site specific sculptures situated within the pond habitat inspired by nests, cocoons and animal shelters.

The project took its inspiration from animal homes showcased in the book Animal Architecture by Ingo Arndt, and involved families working together to create their own naturalistic dwelling spaces. The building of each nesting space involved communication and collaborative creativity.

This project was supported by Create Louth, The Arts Service of Louth Local Authorities


Light the Summer Fire


Age and Opportunity, Bealtaine Festival 2015

The Bealtaine Festival is a nationwide celebration of ‘creativity as we age’ organised by Age and Opportunity Ireland. One of the festival’s themes for 2015 is reflecting upon our relationship to landscape.

As part of this celebration, St. John of God North East Services in Drumcar, County Louth staged a May procession of song, art, poetry and movement, within a forest filled with wildflowers.

Seasonal celebrations at St. Jon of God North East Services are now regularly held as a collaboration between staff members involved in art therapy, spiritual care, art, music, and activation programmes. Each celebration incorporates folklore traditions, ritual, music, artworks, and environmental installations. The celebrations offer opportunities for public enactments related to arts and disability services.

A Dance of Touch



A series of creative movement workshops are exploring touch as a stimulus for dance for adults living with physical disability and limited mobility. Improvisation through finger and hand contact examines relationships with carers through non-verbal communication.

Gestures unfold into a series of evocative explorations of space, time and inter-subjectivity.

This project is supported by Saint John of God North East Services, County Louth

Botanical Expeditions



Artist books displaying the discoveries of walking expeditions through floral gardens is the feature of a project for adults with special needs. Botanical drawing, in this instance, captures not the actual representation of a plant’s features, but rather how the viewer moves and responds to the plant itself. Walking and artistic gestures are combined, and movement accompanies observation and depiction. The goal of the project is to document botanical experiences that are full of colour, texture, and a feeling of abundance.

This project is supported by Saint John of God North East Services, County Louth


A Feast of Words

Feast of Words

Groundswell coordinated an arts and health celebration for Spring 2015 entitled A Feast of Words: Arts and Well Being. The celebration was an inaugural event launching an arts and health partnership composed of the following participants: The Arts Office of County Louth (Create Louth), Creative Spark, An Táin Arts Centre, The Dundalk Youth Centre, and Louth County Council Library Service.

Feast of Words Events

International Women’s Day Book Displays at Dundalk, Drogheda and Ardee Libraries

Remote: A Play about Protest, Power and Protecting Yourself, M.A.D. Youth Theatre, An Táin Arts Centre

Pulp and Print Exhibition of Handmade Paper Banners with Screen Printing at Creative Spark

Performance Art for the Dundalk Youth Centre’s Open House and St. Patrick’s Day

Writing History, A Workshop for Adults with author Nicola Pierce, Drogheda Library

A Life: A Play about Connections Between the Past and the Present, Dolmen Theatre Group, An Táin Arts Centre

Writing History, A Workshop for Adults with author Nicola Pierce, Dundalk Library

The aim of the Louth arts and health alliance of cultural programmes is to promote community based access to arts interventions that examine and enhance human experience. Of particular interest is the delivery of arts and health services that reflect the integrity of locality as a cultural orientation. Interaction, expression, and achievement are proposed outcomes of an arts and health agenda within this community context.

This project was supported by Create Louth, The Arts Service of Louth County Council

Physical Constructions



Saint John of God North East Services in Drumcar, County Louth are supporting an art therapy residency featuring sculptural forms and movement studies, as a therapeutic practice for adults with learning disabilities. The manipulation of materials result in three dimensional constructions that reflect empathic physical relationships between service users and their carers. These ‘duets’ are further explored through touch and improvisation within movement sessions aimed at unfolding new physical possibilities. Art and movement studies apply art therapy to interrogations of space, and examine how physical contact can create extensions into new dimensions of experience.



Groundswell has worked in collaboration with Louth County Council Environment Section, Louth Tidy Towns Together and Blackrock Tidy Towns Together on two biodiversity projects which have received national recognition.

1. Pride of Place Awards in Association with Cooperation Ireland (2014)

An all-island competition that acknowledges the work of communities.

Eco Tribes, Eco Initiative Category, Runner Up

2. Local Authority Community and Council Awards (LAMA) 2014

Awards acknowledge County Council collaboration with community projects that enhance localities.

Blackrock Playground Park, Best Public Park

Visual Journals


Retreat 3

Visual Journals: Mixed Media Artist Books was the title of a month long course at Ardee Library combining journalling and creative writing. A visual journal combines words, photos, images and memorabilia. It is composed from a variety of materials, creating a series of reflective and personal compositions of ideas, experiences and daily activities. The course included outdoor printmaking, photography, environmental art, visual poetry, collage making, drawing and excursions to explore natural and architectural surroundings.

This project was supported by the Louth County Council Library Service