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'Sub-aquatic Dublin', Paul GreggVital Signs: Arts and Health in Context

An Arts Council Initiative

Exhibition: 14 - 21 October; Conference: 15 October

Vital Signs is a programme of arts and health events that took place in Dublin in October 2009. It included a conference in the Royal College of Physicians (October 15), a national exhibition in five venues in Dublin 8 (October 14 - 21), and a series of opinion pieces about arts and health practice. Vital Signs is an Arts Council initiative, developed and delivered in association with Create.

NEW: Poetry and the power of healing by Paula Meehan (Irish Times, October 6). This is one of a series of opinion pieces commissioned as part of the programme.

The Vital Signs programme aims to raise the profile of arts and health as an innovative area of contemporary arts practice, to showcase the dynamic work of artists working in healthcare settings and to inform and provoke greater critical reflection and response within the arts and health sectors. The programme is part of the Arts Council’s current focus on the area of arts and health, which will culminate in the development of a related policy and strategy.

The Vital Signs exhibition was curated by Michelle Browne and was the first national exhibition of its kind. Vital Signs featured fourteen artists from around the country and included: Dominic Thorpe, Helene Hugel, Marie Brett, Charlotte Donovan, Jennie Moran, Seamus McGuiness, Denis Roche, Danny McCarthy, Paul Maye, Cathy Henderson, Mark Roper, Ger Wolfe, Paul Gregg and John Tunney. The exhibition took place from October 14 - 21 at the National College of Art and Design Gallery, Foley’s Pharmacy on Thomas Street, St. James’s Hospital, St Patrick’s University Hospital and Dr. Steevens’ Hospital. The exhibition trail took approximately one hour to complete.

The purpose of the Vital Signs conference was to bring artists, project managers, healthcare staff, service users, researchers and policy makers together to explore the opportunities and challenges of arts and health practice in Ireland today, and to identify effective ways forward in terms of policy, strategy and partnership.

The conference was chaired by poet, playwright and RTÉ radio presenter Vincent Woods and focused on the areas of arts participation, architecture, medical humanities and public art practices in healthcare contexts. It also explored: the opportunities and challenges for artists working in healthcare settings; the value of arts and health practice; the immediate needs of the sector and the way forward. There was no cost for attendance.

Please see for the conference programme.

Photograph: 'The Bedmaker', Helene Hugel

Isn't every heart sacred. Paul Maye 

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