Bringing contemporary art to the healthcare setting

Our Artist in Residence programme engages patients and staff in contemporary arts practice and gives professional artists the opportunity to develop their practice in an acute hospital setting. Artists are given a studio space in the Réalta Centre and are supported by Waterford Healing Arts staff to engage patients and/or staff at University Hospital Waterford (UHW) in participatory or collaborative art-making.

Artists are selected every year through open competition which calls for inspiring proposals which aim to offer innovative opportunities for staff and/or patients to be creative. While the Artist in Residence initiative usually sees an artist collaborating closely with patients on an art project, in recent years, due to COVID-related restrictions, the artist has instead been working with staff from different departments in the hospital.

The residency is open to artists of all disciplines, it supports emerging and mid-career artists and focuses on the collaborative process rather than the production of a new body of work, while not excluding the possibility of the latter.

In 2022, Artist in Residence Catarina Arúajo offered hospital staff opportunities to experience art making through drop-in sessions at lunchtime and a series of evening workshops. Catarina explains “I offer the staff at UHW time to engage in a creative and imaginative art making project that reflects on the importance of taking time and space to oneself. Staff have joined me in playful workshops, where individual concepts are developed through conversations, leading to the creation of small-scale sculptural work.”

To date, Artists in Residence with Waterford Healing Arts have included Aifric Gray, our first Artist in 2014, Joe Brennan, Catherine Sweeney Browne, Ciara Harrison, Caroline Schofield, Lucy Hill, Patricia Crossey, Cormac Leane, Bernie Laherty, Gemma Hodge, Valerie Stone, Grace O’Meara, Mary Beth Meehan, Mark Roper, Brigid Teehan, Libby Seward, Caroline O’Sullivan, Maria Casey, Kevin O’Shanahan, Laura Fitzgerald, Emily Robyn Archer, Maria McKinney, Martin Fahy, Jeffrey Gormly, John Conway and Marie–Jeanne Jacob.

In 2018, for the first time, Waterford Healing Arts brought together two art forms under the Artist in Residence programme, with Composer Eric Sweeney and Poet Edward Denniston. collaborating with patients in the creation of a new choral work Hospital Voices This was performed by Madrigallery Chamber Choir, under the direction of Dr Kevin O’Carroll, at the UHW Chapel on Thursday 6 December 2018 to celebrate Waterford Healing Arts’ 25th Anniversary.