Canadian Art Therapy Association Conference, August 25-27th, 2013
St. John’s Newfoundland
Florescence: A Compendium of Flowers
This workshop aligned with the conference theme of rural art therapy and showcased how flower gardens may be restorative as a horticultural activity, as a cultivation of live art media, and for outdoor gatherings incorporating symbolic enactments featuring flowers. Florescence refers to flowering, a changing situation and development. Flowers are expressions of life support and contribute to both biodiversity and human vigour. The ephemeral nature of flowers is an opportunity to reflect upon metamorphosis as a human and botanical experience. The workshop will take the form of an outdoor studio with flowers as our centrepiece for adornment, observance and enactment.
Frontiers refers to a threshold and a point of departure. It can be considered an entrance, a gateway and an inception into a widening territory. The Creative Arts Therapies and arts therapies offer opportunities for making with art, music, drama, dance and movement that extend into new therapeutic landscapes of expression.
The first all Ireland arts therapies convocation conference gathers Creative Arts Therapists and arts therapists together from Ireland and Northern Ireland for the purpose of showcasing best practice, contemporary research and the arts therapies in action.
A convocation is a celebratory gathering which honours achievement, dedication and the sharing of knowledge. In this context, a convocation heralds therapeutic innovations utilising the arts as beacons of communication, inspiration and vision.
Frontiers is a co-produced by the Irish Association of Creative Arts Therapists, the British Association of Art Therapists, Crawford College of Art and Design @ Munster Technological University and Belfast School of Art @ Ulster University. It is also supported by the British Association of Dramatherapists, the British Association of Music Therapy and iCommunity Shared Practice Hub.
The conference is generously supported by Technological University Dublin, School of Art and Design.
LINEN BIENNALE 2023, Revive and Renew R-Space Gallery, Northern Ireland
“The Linen Biennale is a cultural festival that stimulates new thinking about Ireland’s oldest textile, linen. Rooted in heritage, the Linen Biennale forms a bridge to connect Northern Ireland’s internationally renowned linen heritage with contemporary uses.” Anthea McWilliams and Robert Martin, R-Space Gallery, Lisburn Northern Ireland
During the evening launch of the exhibition Connected Emotions by Jill Phillips art therapists Pamela Whitaker and Bridget Nugent facilitated self-care rituals with participants both individually and collectively. They enacted becoming in relation to the material (and fabric) of peoples’ lives. There were opportunities for personalised encounters, performative remedies and collective ceremony.
“Cloth is intimate, another skin, a boundary and a caress. It designates function and also entwines a story.”
MATERIALisation was supported by Belfast School of Art.
European Federation of Art Therapy Conference, June 2023
Art Academy of Latvia
Coalescence: Art Therapy and Material Culture
The word coalescence refers to the merging of materials to form new compositions. Its association with production contributes to the profession of art therapy by featuring the significance of material culture within both the theory and practice of art therapy. The term materialisation (the process of coming into being) was introduced in relation to art therapy’s contribution to contemporary material and visual culture scholarship related to textiles. Encouraging the inclusion of fabric and fibre arts within art therapy offers new ways of exploring stories as they are told not only through words, but through the rhythm of going in and out of strands of meaning.
Healing Through Photography Conference: Seeing Through a Different Lens
A conference examining the use of photography to support mental health.
Keynote: Challenging Health Outcomes Integrating Care Environments for Long Term Service Users of Mental Health
The Photo Voice research project at Belfast Exposed is a feature of CHOICE (Challenging Health Outcomes – Integrating Care Environments) which is a collaborative research project with people who are long term service users of mental health services co-produced with a community coalition of mental health advocates. The Photo Voice series has been initiated at Belfast Exposed with lived experience experts who are documenting their life experiences through photography and spoken narratives. Photo Voice is a form of visual storytelling and it has been utilised for health promotion and social empowerment. The overall aim of the research is to co-produce innovative arts-based approaches to tackle social exclusion and the reduction of health inequities. CHOICE is led by Professor Gerard Leavey, Director of the Bamford Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing at Ulster University.
The Art of Academic Writing, Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge
Re-crafting books with mixed media materials, poetic interventions and textile applications encouraged novel approaches to the art of academic writing. The art of writing studio promoted the mixing and matching of words and images in relation to our own scholarly pursuits as both artists and writers. The workshop was organised in conjunction with the Rosemary Murray Library at Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge.
A workshop for families who would like to learn more about organic gardening and how to cultivate biodiversity in their home gardens. Making nature is an opportunity to craft a family garden that is imaginative, ecological and makes nature a part of everyday family life. Family gardens are an outdoor studio where everyone’s nature has a place to be cultivated and tended. A family garden is a living art installation and a place to grow.
Our belongings may be comforting and reassuring or associated to clutter as a mélange of material miscellany. The bits and pieces of our lives are brought together as a form of storytelling. These items may be a combination of functional objects, bric-a-brac, heirlooms, trinkets, souvenirs, handmade artworks and the ephemera of possessions in general—no object is excluded, and all material contributions are welcome in the production of home. This is a case study of a joint teaching venture between the subject areas of ceramics and art psychotherapy at the Belfast School of Art, that situates making at home as a centrepiece for pedagogical practice.
The chapter Studios of Life: Outsider Art at School was written for the book Bridging the Creative Arts Therapies and Arts and Health, edited by Donna Betts and Val Huet.
The chapter featured the role of graffiti as part of the outdoor studio of a primary school located in Dublin, Ireland. The project was an opportunity to engage with the characteristics of young people’s everyday lives as citizens and cultural producers. The outdoor studio engages a child’s curiosity and their investigation of the world-at-large. The art of making in an outdoor studio nurtures the artistic life of the school and promotes pride of place opportunities for young learners within their communities. It is an art therapy approach influenced by creative health and local culture.
The Walking Studio: The Art of Urban Exploration was a joint outreach and experiential art and urban design workshop led by Pamela Whitaker and Saul Golden (Ulster University, Northern Ireland). The event was composed of art and urban design methodologies involving walking conversations and techniques with members of the public on a tour of Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter cultural district.
The walk offered participants an opportunity to explore art galleries and sites of urban art, aiming to imagine Belfast as a canvas for creative living. The event included critical observations and discussions about the inclusion, diversity and at-times appropriation of art in the built environment, and the impacts of art in the public realm on individual/collective wellbeing. Participants created portable artworks as part of their journey through activities curated in public spaces.
Florescence refers to flowering, a changing situation and development. Flowers are expressions of life support and contribute to both biodiversity and human vigour. Human aesthetic correspondences to flowers include the capacity to identify with flower species that become them. The ephemeral nature of flowers is an opportunity to reflect upon metamorphosis as a human and botanical experience. As an art material, flowers evoke experiences of sensory absorption and facilitate attunement to temporality, blossoming attributes and decomposition.
Within visual culture, horticulture and environmental therapies flowers are known to become us in the way they are cultural influencers and personal signifiers. Their temporality intensifies our experience in how they display our life stories in cycles of correspondences. The nature of flowers accompanies us as a life material that performs as a development of ontogenesis or our unfolding into our own evolution.
An invited talk and workshop at Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge in response to the exhibition What Lies Beneath: Women, Politics and Textiles (April-August 2022) organised by Dr. Lorna Dillon.
Raw Material explored sewing for embellishment, repair and piecing together what matters. This was an open studio for making and discussion on the topics of mending, women’s sewing circles and contemporary women’s textiles.
What Lies Beneath: Women, Politics, Textiles brought together a multi-generational, international group of women artists and collectives, using textiles to comment on politics and society. Traditionally, the history of textiles is the history of women’s work. Whether hung over beds, laid on floors or worn on the body, textiles have a unique ability to communicate collective histories and individual stories.
“I consider a festival to be an event composed of many occasions and situations; it has multiple pathways meeting expressive circumstances, serendipity, and the unusual”
“Pamela Whitaker, applies key Deleuzian notions such as nomadic subjectivity and the event to the domains of art therapy and the festival. The latter helps diffuse and redefine a subjectivity that is often entrenched within the transactional, bourgeois confines of the therapy room and allowed to literally walk off course and engage with rich multiplicities” Manu Bazzano, Special Issue Editor, Deleuze and Psychotherapy
Festival art therapy is a proposition for identity-in-the-making within events. The intensity and immersion of personal narratives within festival themes can extend identity into free association. The festival is composed of multiplies—simultaneous opportunities to enter and be impacted by words, sounds, visual culture and spectacle. It is an experience of becoming within a network of production. This is a consideration of art therapy as a public art form that utilises festival culture as a form of experiencing. The encounter with a festival extends a participant’s personal geography, in terms of discovering something different and beyond the already known. An arts festival is one way to produce affects that improvise with fixed identity formations. A festival can be considered a social prescription or cultural remedy with restorative impact.
Richard Bright: Have there been any particular influences to your ideas and working practice?
Pamela Whitaker: In my promotion of gatherings, and the sharing of art, there is also gift giving. I make a remedy for people to take home, in the form of a keepsake that reminds them of their participation in an event that is restorative. I am fond of the generation of interludes and liminal spaces that interrupt civic spaces with conviviality and creativity. Companionship and generosity are essential, along with the intention to construct a ritual for participants and passersby. People need to be given to—as loss, uneasiness and uncertainty prevail in the lives of many. The art of the feast, as event, is a composition that rejuvenates an optimism about community making. I consider this to be a form of public appeal art or the art of public relations. An opportunity for social mixing, pride of place and being present to each other through shared art making. The quest to rise to the occasion, and to make within encounters with people has been inspired by seasonal celebrations and references to metaphors and symbols that relate to heritage and culture. Art led gatherings are times to observe our whereabouts, our significance and our contributions to shared experience.
Making Arrangements: The Curation of Grief in the Home Studio
Pamela Whitaker and Chris McHugh
An appreciation of each person’s material culture supports relevancy within art therapy practice by encouraging participants to embrace their worldly goods as psychological and artistic possessions.
A commemorative display incorporates collections of hand-me-downs, found objects, purchased items, inherited mementos, and created symbols. In their arrangement and proximity there is a handling of our experiences in a tangible way. Within reach, they are objects we can hold on to as a composition of solace. We make with what we find at home and the assembling is a juxtaposition of life experiences both past and present. Rather than a singular artwork it is a conglomerate of parts (or influences) bound together as a forging of relations.
The Art of Walking: Composing Landmarks, Performing Territory
A Chapter Published in Found Objects in Art Therapy: Materials and Process. Editors Daniel Wong and Ronald Lay.
The Walking Studio is an invitation to create walks from the thoroughfares of routes regularly taken. The readymade encounters with materials and locations are an opportunity to reconsider place making as an artistic practice.
“Walking can find a place apart to come together. It fuels the desire to be involved in a new situation—going somewhere different and being in the making. Walking marks a pathway to somewhere and a return. It is a social movement undertaken within a built environment or as an encounter with nature. The art is found along the way—revealed through the observation of objects as built constructions and scenery already in place. The walker can make use of found objects incorporated within built and natural environments, which become evocative through immersion or through witnessing as a passerby”
Whitaker, P. (2021) The Art of Walking: Composing Landmarks, Performing Territory. In D. Wong and R. Lay (Eds.) Found Objects in Art Therapy: Materials and Process.
This is an article about land art that constructs habitats of refuge or survival shelters.The art of constructing forest sanctuaries, as a form of social media, is a resourcing of found materials transformed into personal and social places of significance.
Amidst COVID-19 restrictions, nature became everyone’s place to be and public parks were an essential common place for combining and finding a place apart to come together. What emerged in the forests of Phoenix Park, Dublin, was the construction of landmarks for protection and solace.
As bushcraft and public art forms, these dens act as declarations of personal security and social constructions, occupying both a boundary and an invitation.
Visual Research Journals for Primary School Students
Blackrock Library, Dublin
Research as a graphic design with words evoking images of knowledge. A visual journal can illustrate ideas, through the combining of words and art, which become depictions of information. Art and expressive writing add drama to research, encouraging the telling of facts as scenes of discovery.
Drawing with Words is a workshop for primary school students aged 10-12 held at the Blackrock Library, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.
The art of walking is education on the move. It is a methodology that facilitates social research, cooperative learning, critical thinking and responses to civic environments.
The workshop offered participants at the National Arts in Education Portal Day a versatile educational approach, aimed to meet a variety of goals in primary and secondary school curriculums (social, personal, health education/civic, social and political education/environmental and social studies).
The workshop was co-presented with Marietta Graham Reynolds (Creative Schools Coordinator, Tullyallen National School) and Declan Gorman (Creative Associate, Creative Schools Ireland)
Tullyallen National School (County Louth, Ireland) is a Creative School designated under Creative Ireland. The school’s Forest Studio is an environment for land art, site specific writing and outdoor studios, which encourage artist collectives amongst primary school students.
“Creative Ireland is a nationally funded culture-based programme designed to promote individual, community, and national well being. The core proposition is that participation in cultural activity drives personal and collective creativity, with significant implications for individual and societal well being and achievement”. www.creativeireland.gov.ie
“A Creative School develops and celebrates the arts and creativity. It establishes a range of collaborative opportunities to strengthen its relationships with the broader cultural and community infrastructure. The aim is for every school in Ireland to fully embrace the arts and creativity, ensuring a positive experience and strong outcomes for children and young people”. www.artscouncil.ie
Materials, theories and practices of art therapy for art therapy trainees at Ulster University, Belfast School of Art. A collection of resources that examine approaches, inspirations and material experiences of art therapy.
Festival of Social Science at Ulster University 2019
Economic and Social Research Council
Sarah Edge/Pamela Whitaker/Rosy Martin
Come along and here lectures profiling the work of two Ulster University academics: Sarah Edge and Pamela Whitaker. Their research examines how the body can be employed as a form of resistance in art practice. Sarah Edge will re-examine the history of feminist performance art, and link this to post-feminist concepts. Pamela Whitaker will talk about her work on public practice art therapy in civic spaces, outdoor studios and within cultural contexts. They will be joined by Rosy Martin, who will discuss collaborative performances incorporating photography, phototherapy and re-enactment.
Crawford College of Art and Design (Cork) + School of Visual Arts (New York)
An interactive experience for art therapy trainees from Crawford College of Art and Design and the School of Visual Arts.
The art therapy studio can include the world-at-large.
Outside and making a statement within everyday places—graffiti is making an impression upon a physical location.
Graffiti is an artistic enterprise, claiming territory and making one’s mark upon the scenes where people live out their lives. As a form of public art, “it is the strength of feeling that these artworks engender that is so enrapturing” (John Fekner, The World Atlas of Street Art and Graffiti).
Physical graffiti is a pubic demonstration, that contributes to civic dialogue and public art therapy.
Irish Association of Creative Arts Therapists Symposium at the Irish Museum of Modern Art 2019
Unravelling is to unwind, unknot, and undo. It also means to solve a problem, to resolve or explain something.
The day is a festival of simultaneous improvisations and unexpected possibilities.
An opportunity to encounter arts therapies in action, in collaboration, and inviting participation.
Enter into evocative art forms that unravel and reassemble creative arts therapy disciplines. The symposium is a meeting point, a place for arts therapists, artists, and allied professionals to encounter each other through shared artistry and camaraderie.
First Fortnight, Mental Health Art and Culture Festival
Walking off Course
A walk with a difference—an encounter with pedestrian art and places found in between the National College of Art and Design and the Irish Museum of Modern Art.
An opportunity to be restored by serendipity, the speaking of truths, and companionship along the way.
There will be conversations, notes to self, and the chance to be part of a collective of passersby seeking meaning in everyday circumstances.
The First Fortnight Festival “unapologetically disrupts” complacency around mental health issues in Ireland. For the first two weeks of every year, First Fortnight addresses “Ireland’s attitudes and behaviour when it comes to mental health” through an arts festival geared to challenge stigma, illuminate understanding, and activate voices for change, www.firstfortnight.ie
Artist in Residence, LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore 2019
MA Art Therapy Programme
Art Therapy Out of Bounds
A residency devoted to the creation of land art within the nature of public environments. Artworks will be both site specific and transportable, assembling ingredients of location to portray the energies of participants and the character of place. Art therapy will become a happening within the nature of landscapes that are not neutral, but alive with potential and processes of becoming.
The Nature of Art Therapy: Materials, Landscape, Context
The Artistry of Location
Spoken Word Performance
The Choreography of Space
Outdoor Celebrations: Festivity, Hospitality and Generosity
Art Therapy Conference on Parent-Child Relationships for Mental Wellness 2018
Hong Kong Art Therapy Association
The Outdoor Studio: Anything Can Happen
An outdoor studio is a place of possibility. It can inspire partnerships between adults and children with materials found within the world-at-large (in parks, community contexts, and cultural spaces). Art therapy is a way to reach out to others, to be of service, and to inspire families within everyday environments. The outdoor studio is a space for artistic discovery and ingenuity. It develops collaboration and collective imagination within family life. An outdoor studio encourages a creative alliance between family members and can serve as a vital medium of communication. In this workshop participants explored the potential of outdoor studios as places for therapeutic rejuvenation, where family members become better known to themselves and each other.
Canadian Art Therapy Association/l’Association canadienne d’art-thérapie Conference
Concordia University, Montreal, October 12-14, 2018
Keynote: Making a Scene in Public
“Composing art from the materials of life and within environments of encounter. Art therapy should be relevant to life where it happens, becoming a beacon of possibility and an antidote to indifference”
The Nature of Art Therapy is the title of an exhibition and website for art therapists and allied professionals interested in working within outdoor studios, landscapes, walkways and environments with foraged materials. The exhibition will be composed of artworks from the homelands of conference participants.
An Art Hive is a community art studio where everyone is considered an artist. The Art Hive movement began in Montreal, Canada with the vision of Dr. Janis Timm-Bottos, Associate Professor, Creative Arts Therapies at Concordia University. An Art Hive “celebrates the strengths and capacities of individuals and communities and fosters self-directed experiences of creativity, learning and skill sharing” (www.arthives.org).
The Blackrock Park Art Hive was located in Blackrock, County Louth. Blackrock Park is a community crafted park, designed and cultivated by hundreds of adults and children living nearby. The gardens in the park are biodiversity and pollinator friendly. There is a forest garden (with edible wild foods), a medieval garden, a Celtic garden, an intergenerational flower garden, a wildflower garden and nature habitats developed by local school children.
During the summer of 2018, The Blackrock Park Art Hive developed an outdoor studio for families, which produced creations for a home display of seasonal artworks.
Northern Ireland Group for Art as Therapy Summer School 2018
Ulster University, Belfast School of Art
Working collaboratively in outdoor studios participants will construct artworks from their surroundings. The forest of Belfast Castle will be the scene for our encounters with materials foraged and assembled into compositions from the landscape. Spoken word enactments, combined with physical actions, will complete the experience.
Creative Agency and Political Responses through Arts Therapy
Editor for a special issue of the Canadian Art Therapy Association Journal in collaboration with the Canadian International Institute of Art Therapy. It highlights debates and calls to action on the topics of reconciliation, decolonization, Indigenous art therapy, cultural humility, child and youth care, cultural competence, self-compassion and culturally appropriate art materials.
ROUTES was a symposium by Arts Therapies Northern Ireland in partnership with Ulster University, Belfast School of Art.
The event was a tribute to the roots of arts therapies in Northern Ireland and also routes to new opportunities. Art, music and drama therapists highlighted both the history and potential of the arts therapies in Northern Ireland. This inaugural event was attended by arts therapists and allied professionals.
Groundswell contributed a performance of words spoken by participants about their past and future.
This workshop investigated the creation of land art within the nature of public spaces. Working with found and natural materials, in outdoor studio areas, artworks related to both personal and collective themes. Therapeutic situations were encountered en route through the examination of outdoor habitats. There was a consideration of how art therapy could be choreographed through spontaneous relations with the environment. Artworks were both site specific and transportable, assembling ingredients of location in an attempt to enact the energies of participants and the character of place.
The Writers’ Lounge is a resource for authors of the Canadian Art Therapy Association Journal. The Writers’ Lounge was also included in a research panel for the Irish Association of Creative Arts Therapists AGM 2018, encouraging arts therapists to develop articles for publication in national and international journals.
Editor for the 30th Anniversary Issue of the Canadian Art Therapy Association Journal
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.
Editor for the Canadian Art Therapy Association Journal’s special issue, Art Therapy and Environment. Environment is defined broadly and includes compelling and thought provoking articles from Canadian and international art therapists and allied professionals.
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 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’.
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.
The classroom as happening promotes animated learning. A situation is created whereby students re-define their educational surroundings. Their classroom becomes flexible. Art in this sense is related to environment 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
A fim about older men taking to the street with stories from now and then.
There is graffiti.
The making of scenes.
Declarations by word and song.
These are Dundalk stories.
A town like any other town in Ireland, but different.
An Táin Arts Centre (Dundalk, County Louth) supported the production of What of It? in collaboration with the Dundalk Men’s Shed, filmmaker Steven Larkin, graffiti artist Barry Finnegan, performance poet Jinx Lennon, composer Patrick Connolly and Pamela Whitaker of Groundswell.
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” (www.firstfortnight.ie)
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.
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.
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.
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. Transportable bundles of fabrics, threads, and papers were distributed to accompany the makings along a route of passage.
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.
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).
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” (www.firstfortnight.ie).
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.
Poems, words and graffiti 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 can also be 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 with environmental artworks, poetry and music have been produced to celebrate Samhain within community playgrounds and within the grounds of therapeutic care centres.
O’Fiaich Institute of Further Education, Field Trips to Ravensdale Forest
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 Institute (Dundalk, County Louth) have undertaken a series of field trips to Ravensdale Forest to produce artworks using foraged natural materials. The students worked with found organic materials to produce works on paper and larger sculptural forms that evoked the idea of shelter within forest habitats.
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.
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