A County Wexford artist has been chosen to take part in an inaugural exhibition showcasing the work of artists with intellectual disabilities.
Peter Kehoe from Bridgetown is one of ten artists selected by Connections Arts Centre for the exhibition later this month in the Royal College of Surgeons, Dublin.
Peter enjoys painting wildlife, usually animals and birds in their natural habitat along with seascapes and landscapes using watercolours and acrylics.
He said he tries to express a positive outlook through his artwork and emphasises this through bright and cheerful colours. My style of work is bold shapes and lines with bright colours.”
He has enjoyed working on the Connections project and has found the tutor and the other artists very helpful.
“I feel quite proud to be exhibiting my work in the Royal College of Surgeons, It's an honour to be part of the Connections Art Centre and it’s a pleasure to work with such fantastic artists and to see their brilliant artwork.
"I have been doing art since I was a child. The artists that inspire me are Picasso, Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh. My favourite painting is Sunflowers by Van Gogh”.
Connections Arts Centre was first established as an online platform dedicated to connecting members of the disability community through the arts and was the brainchild of Miriam Spollen, a long-time advocate of, and worker in the Arts and Disability sector.
“I lost my job in 2021 due to Covid, but really it was a blessing in disguise as I now had time to develop a business idea that I had been contemplating for over 10 years. In the mist of Covid”, she explained.
“Connections Arts Centre was developed to connect and support people with disabilities through the arts. In March of this year, CAC opened a base in Rathgar, Dublin to run training and arts and lifestyle programmes.
“We have supported 600 participants since our inception just last year through a mixture of online and in-person activities and it has been so rewarding and encouraging to see the engagement and enthusiasm of participants.”
Connections Arts Centre has worked with participants from organisations such as Enable Ireland, REhab, Walk, Gheel Autism and other services.
Connecting Artists 2022 was developed when Miriam spotted a need to highlight the work of artists with intellectual disabilities from all over Ireland.
The programme provides an immersive and interactive programme for artists with intellectual abilities to develop their creative practice and hone their natural talents.
The exhibition at the RCSI is showcasing the work of ten artists who participated in the online programme and who are being encouraged to form their own collective to continue meeting monthly online with the support of CAC.
“There is a wonderful atmosphere amongst our online community, the artists feel part of a wider arts world which feeds their wonderful creativity and imagination. It has been great to see such positive energy and community amongst the artists", said Miriam.
“It’s been so fulfilling to watch so many artists support each other and develop their practice. It’s all about connections and giving the artists confidence, helping them to develop and perfect their natural creativity and highlighting their incredible talents to the wider community, while breaking down barriers.”
Miriam said there has been a very positive reaction to the upcoming exhibition.
“It is a wonderful achievement for the artists themselves first and foremost, and we are truly heartened by the response we are receiving from the broader public, both business and community”.
The programme was sponsored by the Bank of Ireland’s “Begin Together Arts Fund” in partnership with “Business to Arts”.