Supporting the creation of socially-engaged art works, Other People’s Practices examines how the users of mental health services can creatively collaborate with artists.
An artists residency and research project, Other People’s Practices (OPP) is centred around Usher’s Island, a National Forensic Mental Health Service (NFMHS) community centre for recovered and recovering service users of the Central Mental Hospital (CMH). One of the Creative Ireland Programme’s 30 National Creativity Fund initiatives, OPP is a partnership between visual artist John Conway, the NFMHS, the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) and Waterford Healing Arts Trust (WHAT).
Compelling, compassionate and inclusive, one of its three four-month artists residencies is already underway. The first artist taking the helm is printmaker Emma Finucane. With over ten years’ experience in researching and making visual art in health settings, Emma recently introduced her art practice and residency’s aims at OPP’s launch in NCAD. Interested in exploring Usher’s Island as a vital space within the lives of the service users who pass through during recovery, Emma is using dialogic art-making workshops and collaborating with service users to question the potential of a creative journey. Her residency queries what happens when the artist and service user navigate the environment together.
hese three residencies will be spent researching, devising and creating work with service users, in response to the unique context of the site and their individual experiences. Not limited to supporting artists developing works in socially-engaged spaces and health settings, OPP’s main objective is to support service users in collaboratively making meaningful contributions to professional art works. It seeks to determine just how we can elevate participation in these artworks beyond formal occupational therapy to an authentic, multi-layered activity that, crucially, takes place outside of the institution itself.
What’s more, the vital community of carers, loved ones, HSE staff and positive mental health advocates will interact with the project through talks and exhibitions that bookend each residency.
Directed and curated by visual artist John Conway, OPP seeks to establish sustainable artist in residency programmes in the NFMHS and establish a new arts culture in the new Central Mental Hospital currently under construction in Portrane. It’s projects like OPP that bring new perspectives on how to support people with community reintegration and recovery; to challenge the taboo and stigma around forensic mental health; and elevate the important part creative practice has to play.