ARTISTS, residents and day visitors of eleven community hospitals and day care centres throughout West Cork are displaying the work of their Envelope project at the Uillinn Centre in Skibbereen from now until June 6th.
During a nine-month period, over 400 people in hospitals and day centres in West Cork connected with one another by writing letters, drawing pictures, or sharing poems and memories and putting them in envelopes and these were posted between the hospitals and day centres.
Together the participants and artists re-lived the enjoyment in writing. One of the artists, Toma McCullim spoke of ‘the thrill of receiving a letter; referencing historic letters, famous love letters, facsimiles and the power that people imbue in the words’.
Each person was invited to create an envelope. The envelope could contain a precious item, words of wisdom, musical notes, she loved writing the letter, putting it into the envelop and sealing it. ‘These days most envelopes we receive are brown and contain bills or formal notices. The ones we made were highly decorative, colourful and had personal meaning to all of us. Both sending my envelope, knowing that someone would read it and receiving envelopes from other hospitals gave me real pleasure,’ she said.
Theresa Healy-Kingston, director of Nursing at Dunmanway Community Hospital, said it was a wonderful initiative. ‘The project, celebrating and exploring the diminishing art of letter writing as a new digital era evolves, was a great way for residents to explore their creativity and remember days gone by when writing letters was the only way of communication for many. It brought back many happy and sad occasions for some and allowed them time to reminisce and honour times gone by,’ she said.
Visitors to the interactive exhibition are invited to witness the collection of correspondence and join in to create their own envelope, continuing the conversation between the contributors.
The exhibit, which was organised by the West Cork Arts for Health partnership programme, is part of this year’s Bealtaine Festival – the national arts festival unique to Ireland. Bealtaine celebrates creativity as we age, run by Age and Opportunity, with an exhibition showcasing the programmes for older people that run year round from the West Cork Arts Centre, along with gallery tours, workshops and once-off events.