Unique exhibition at Ardgillan Castle

John Manning

Published 29/10/2013 | 10:00

Eric Ennis at work.

AN art exhibition with a difference opens soon at Ardgillan Castle and will open the lid on the creative imagination of 60 artists with intellectual disabilities and brain injuries.

The exhibition is from clients of the Talbot Group and opens at the castle on Saturday, November 2, and according to one professional artist, the work on display will be 'truly extraordinary'.

The artists are all clients of the Talbot Group and are attending one of the group's various facilities in Stamullen, Malahide or Dundalk, or in one of several houses in communities in the surrounding areas.

They were introduced to art some years ago as a means of therapy and it has opened up a whole new means of self expression for them which they have really learned to utilise.

As one of the artists so aptly put it: 'If I could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint.'

The 60 artists range in ages from 21 to 65 and have differing levels of disability but what they have in common is that they have all been encouraged to express themselves through their art.

This project came about largely as a result of Laura Eagers, a senior art tutor with the Talbot Group, who has long dreamt of getting the clients' art work properly framed and displayed at an art exhibition for everybody to see.

'My work as an art tutor in the Courtyard over the past ten years allows me to show the benefits of practicing art, to widen the appreciation and awareness of the whole area of art and to give the opportunity to each and every one of the trainees in our services to be creative within personal and group projects,' Laura said.

'Being creative allows the trainee to express themselves in a safe and non-judgmental atmosphere, which in turn provides them with alternative perspectives on life and relationships with others.

'Thus, art practice can work in numerous ways involving the whole person and their use of sensory-motor, perceptual, cognitive, emotional, physical, social and spiritual aspects and skills.'

She added: 'Practicing art contributes therapeutically as an aid which can rehabilitate sense of self, self-esteem and social skills through group participation and self-exploration.

'Holding an exhibition of the trainees work has been a personal goal of mine for some time and to get such a wonderful exhibition space at Ardgillan Castle is a great achievement.

'The artists have been working hard over the past five months. My fellow art tutors Carl Armstrong and Alma Andrews and I are very proud of the enthusiasm and dedication of all the trainees.

'We are also thrilled to have works submitted from all other branches of the organisation– The Elms, Cedarwood , Talbot Lodge and Blackrock Abbey.'

Laura concluded: 'None of this could have been achieved without the support and continuous involvement of all the staff working in the Courtyard, especially our Coordinators Ms Shirley McAuley and Ms Natalie Creevey.

'We are all looking forward to the Exhibition and know that the viewers will be amazed with the technical skills, creativity, and variety on display.'

Ardee artist, Padraig Lynch, who will be the guest speaker at the exhibition opening. He said that he was very impressed with the client's work. 'It truly is extraordinary. I am delighted to be opening the Talbot Group Art Exhibition - this is an innovative, exciting and inclusive place,' he said

There will be a private viewing of the exhibition at 1pm followed by the official opening at 2pm on Saturday November 2, at Ardgillan Castle, Balbriggan and the exhibition will be open to the public from November 3 until November 21.

Fingal Independent

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