Monday 22 September 2014

Artist hails work as 'truly extraordinary'

Fergal Maddock

Published 12/11/2013 | 05:32

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Eric Ennis (centre,) one of the exhibitors in the Talbot Group Art Exhibition at Ardgillan Castle Balbriggan pictured with his mother Geraldine (right) and art tutor Laura Eagers at the exhibition opening.

AN art exhibition with a difference that has been dubbed 'truly extraordinary' by a professional artist has opened in the sumptuous surroundings of Ardgillan Castle near Balbriggan.

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AN art exhibition with a difference that has been dubbed 'truly extraordinary' by a professional artist has opened in the sumptuous surroundings of Ardgillan Castle near Balbriggan.

The works of art in the exhibition are all very colourful and imaginative but the difference between this and other group exhibitions is that each of the 60 individual artists involved has some form of intellectual disability or acquired brain injury.

The artists are all clients of the Talbot Group and are attending one of the group's various facilities in Stamullen, Co. Meath, Malahide in Dublin, 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 them so aptly put it, 'If I could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint' – a thought that has been adopted as a motto for the whole project.

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. And boy, do they express themselves!

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.'

'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.

'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.'

The exhibition is running until November 21.

Fingal Independent

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