Vergemount Art: Catching the Heart off Guard

Mary Gatley, contributor and Michelle Hall, Art teacher.

Mary Gatley, contributor and Michelle Hall, Art teacher.

Bealtaine means May, which is the month that celebrates the talents of our older population. This year’s festival saw first-time participants, attendees of the Willow Unit in the Vergemount Day Care Centre, showcase their creative abilities under the tutorage of artist Michelle Hall.

The direction was to throw caution to the wind and surprise yourself with the results. The theme was Seamus Heaney’s poem, Postscript. For many participants it was a first attempt at a discipline never before considered, resulting in an exhibition of their collective works that was so impressive a decision was made to capture the images in booklet form.

“The booklet will be both document and keepsake,” Hall said. “You will find images of their work and information on each person’s journey. There are quotes dispersed throughout which reflect on the group’s experience and art-making.”

Home Instead is an organisation dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for our senior citizens by supporting independence in their own home and diminishing isolation through supporting community-based projects. They were happy to sponsor the printing of the booklets and have pledged to support an endeavour to also produce calendars for 2015 from the images, which will raise funds for Willow Day Care and Community Nursing Units in Vergemount, Clonskeagh.

“It seems at times that older people are not valued for the great contribution they have made to all of us in the past nor for their value and worth today,” Bernie Byrne, from Home Instead, told NewsFour. “This project showed to them the many hidden talents they had and to us that it’s never too late to learn.”
Patrick Murphy took part in the project and is featured in the booklet. “Making the effort to do something different gives a new lease of life and outlook, irrespective of what age you might be,” he said.

The final line of Heaney’s poem sums up the experience; “And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.

By Maria Shields O’Kelly