The St Christopher's service users going to USA: Fiona McLoughlin, Seamus Gray, Triona Maloney, James Baxter, John O'Reilly and Rosie Maguire Picture: Shelley Corcoran
Jean Healy joined St Christophers in January 2000 as Art Programme Director and the art programme has gone from strength to strengthover the last 20 years.
The art programme caters for over 100 service users that focuses primarily on people’s abilities. On a weekly basis, artists get to work with a variety of mediums such as painting, feltwork and crafts. - all with the focus of enhancing the artist’s creativity.
Throughout the year, the artists get opportunities to visit exhibitions and meet other artists, this helps to develop their appreciation for art in general. Over 10 years ago, photography was introduced to the Art Programme. The photography courses have been run every year by volunteer photographer Martin Crinigan.
This has proven to be a huge success and over the last 10 years, the photographers have exhibited many times and photography will also feature in the New York exhibition.
“One of the strengths of the art programme is the links that have been forged with many community groups throughout Longford.” Jean said.
The latest two projects are the Yarn Bombing project with the Lus na Greine group in Granard and the Willow sculpture project with Sligo artist Aidan Crotty of two dogs which is planted in the community garden in the mall. Meanwhile, plans are also in place to do further sculptures around the county.
It is the success throughout the years that the art programme has had with community groups that has led them to win the Pride of Place award for art in the community in 2013.
“This award was a particular highlight as were many programmes featuring the art programme on Irish TV, RTE and arts magazines throughout the years.” Jean explained.
Jean feels that the success of the art programme is down to a number of factors.
She stated: “One being the the talent of the service users and two, The board of St. Christopher’s who had the vision to invest and continue to support in the development of Arts in the Service.
“And thirdly the support from local volunteers: Christine Treacy, Regina Maloney, the late Anne Marie Benson, Martin Crinigan and Molly Sheridan.” she added.
As part of St. Christopher’s Showcase, the St. Christopher’s Art Programme are bringing an art exhibition to New York. This exhibition will showcase the talents of the artists to an international audience for the first time. It includes a special piece of art which celebrates the connections between Ireland and the USA which was created for this exhibition.
“For many years, the talents of St. Christopher’s artists has been known and appreciated throughout Longford and now we are delighted to have the opportunity to exhibit their work further afield.” Jean concluded.