How we See. Rachel

Eleanor and I met up again yesterday morning in St Josephs, and had a very productive morning. I find with these projects that you can progress along, at a steady pace, then suddenly you can accelerate forward through having come up with a few ideas that make perfect sense. Also how we see is key. We talked about how we need to anchor this work to the residents and make it accessible for all levels, the residents, the staff, the wider St Josephs Community, and a general audience. We also reminded ourselves that we are responding, as Artists, to St Josephs and it is the artistic response that makes this project unique. It is not a straightforward reiteration of information, it’s the responsibility of the  creative licence that we are using to make work, that must be exercised with subtlety and with care.

Keeping this in mind we talked about the parts of the project that we feel we have successfully found a way to convey this duality of meaning, such as the soundscape and the memory wall. These elements are aesthetically pleasurable, but will have personal resonance for the residents as well as a wider appeal for a general audience. These are unfinished but are coming along nicely.

Eleanor brought up again the idea of tactile objects that we could introduce to the show. As I am currently being obliged to subject the work I have created for my Masters Degree Show to a rigorous editing process we discussed how we might apply the same editing to what we choose to display in our 2 day exhibition in Glór in May. Eleanor mentioned the idea of showing objects that have meaning and power to the residents. For example,  showing some dolls, as minded and cared for tenderly by a couple of the ladies in St Josephs. I thought about the idea of taking it a step further and using the bedside lockers that the residents have beside their beds in the wards. I find these very poignant as there is not a lot of space for personal items in St Josephs, or for that matter in any hospital obviously. So when entering a ward you see these personal items resting on the bedside tables and on top of the bedside lockers.

You can see how an individual’s personality can be seen clearly through the objects they have on their bedside table, or on top of a locker. We discussed the idea of exhibiting some of these bedside lockers with chosen items on them, as part of the show. I think it could work as the other elements of the show are mainly visual and auditory. We want the show, like the experience of visiting St Josephs Hospital, to be immersive on a sensory level, through sound, visuals, performance and 3d objects to negotiate.

Eleanor felt like she had a performance related breakthrough using the idea of objects with power and memory. The objects idea got her thinking about how she could use these for a story telling performance piece for the show. She mentioned the transformational element of taking these objects into  a different context and harnessing their power to tell a story, which I liked a lot.

We had managed all the above in the foyer of the Hospital, in front of reception. We then travelled down and visited some of the residents, who allowed us to photograph their bedside tables, see above and Eleanor’s post. Next Wednesday we will meet a group of residents and ask them about memory and life now, while I get them to do some writing for me, as I want to use real handwriting of those who wish to contribute for part of the memory wall cards.

We were leaving the building when we stopped outside the chapel, drawn by the beauty of the stained glass projecting onto the wooden benches. The closing bars of Pie Jesu were playing. Eleanor asked the  Priest to play it again for us so as we could record it, which he very kindly did. I am devoid of any religious intent or belief but it was a very tranquil and transcendant few minutes spent sitting in the chapel, surrounded by light, listening and recording the music. All in all a very productive morning.

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Stained glass light on the benches in St Josephs Chapel

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