“The Smallest Piece Completes the Puzzle” is a Bank of Ireland Begin Together art project born of a concept to reconnect Longford communities following the isolation and separation of the pandemic.
Connected art pieces made during months of community creativity are meeting in one exhibition and this powerful installation is being launched on Wednesday, May 25 at 1.30pm in the beautiful new Library in Edgeworthstown.
Championed by Longford Women’s Link (LWL) Community Counselling Services in partnership with the Longford Library County Network, it was conceived by two Art Psychotherapists, Emily Cuddy and Loretto McGarry who are artists in their own right.
The logistics of the project alone is a real representation of the Longfords amazing services, spaces and their will to provide meaningful work for the people of Longford.
Loretto explained, “We celebrate the participation and reconnection of Longfords communities who worked together on what started as a response to Covid but is a testament to our wonderful county spirit.”
Information went out to the participants as an invitation for re-connection through creative collaboration, with not only with old friends, but new unknown people too.
The project aimed to involve the entire county and connect individuals making art in the smaller groups (close contacts) then displaying in their own locale and (community) then bringing all group creations together centrally (county).
Referring to the descriptions of the stages, Emily said it was very important that it wasn’t a shocking sudden re-entry to big groups for participants but an easy staggered comfortable re-introduction to groups.
“This was an antidote to the ‘separate, stay-away, isolate’ instructions that we had been living with under the pandemic guidelines. The project asked for a response to covid and we felt if we took control of the art it would be just that - our art.”
Loretto added, “We created a framework for everyone to add their own individual piece no matter what it was in. This was to be representative of how every action no matter how small mattered and made a difference in the bigger picture and how every feeling/thought had about this period of time was relevant and part of Longford’s experience.
She continued, “Every age group who attended the workshops were invited to say what stood out for them from the past two years. Stories began to unfold organically during the workshops as people gave themselves a kind of permission to talk about something they had previously just 'got on with’. Part of the artist's hope was that everyone was heard in this piece no matter how they felt and we have all of the opinions represented within the installation which makes it a powerful trusted space that we feel privileged to have been part of.”
Director of LWL Counselling Services, Angela Keaveney was very happy to partner with the artists when she heard of their proposal which fed into the social inclusion model that is at the heart of Longford Womens Links Counselling Service.
Angela remarked, “The target participants were from lots of different backgrounds and age groups, all who have had different challenges during Covid 19. The fact that there were no barriers as to who could attend and take part which we feel mirrors our services as we strive to increase capacity for empathy in our community and it really visually illustrates how ‘we were all in the same storm but not necessarily in the same boat.”
Paula Mulry Acting County Librarian also felt the importance of different stories coming together enriched everyone’s understanding of each other firstly and then the Covid 19 experience. She said, “The library’s role during this time was to try and keep connected with the community and we were delighted to host such an inclusive project that reconnected people physically after such a time apart.”
‘The Smallest Piece Completes the Puzzle installation’ will remain in Edgeworthstown Library for a week and people are encouraged to come have a look to see if they can find their piece or recognise themselves represented in someone else’s.
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