Innovative hospital art project encourages people to live in the now

An innovative art project at a city public hospital aims to encourage people to have a positive attitude and to live in the present.

The initiative, which was launched recently at University Hospital Galway, is based on the theme of time and living in the now.

Using the walls of the entrance foyer of the hospital as a bright and inspirational canvas, local artist Finbar247 has transformed the space into an area where staff, patients and visitors can learn how to be positive in their day-to-day lives.

The Woodquay artist’s installation of large scale black and white conceptual illustrations promote mindfullness and personal development. Most of the walls in the front foyer are covered with positive messages, including “You are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with”, “If you want to take care of someone, take care of yourself first”, “There are 86,400 seconds in a day, make the most of them” and “It takes 10,000 hours to be professional at what you do”.

The project aims to spread positive energy throughout the hospital. Using interactive pieces, black and white photocopied magazines (zines ) and video documentation it hopes to reach a large audience and encourage people to take the information home and continue learning about themselves.

The artist, Finbar247, who declines to give his surname - preferring to be known by his first name  - studied visual communications and graphic design in Limerick. He is one of Ireland’s most vibrant visual artists to use outdoor spaces as a showcase for the arts and personal expression. His most recent works include a collection of large outdoor paintings around Galway city for Cúirt International Festival of Literature and an exciting installation at the Galway Arts Centre which was open to the public in early May, called ‘Love vs Fear’

The arts director of Galway University Hospitals, Margaret Flannery, was so impressed by his work that she invited him “in for a chat about doing something for Mental Health Week”.

“I spent time at the hospital learning about how many people work there, how many visitors pass through, I have experienced hospitals, too,” he says. “Thankfully what I was hoping to do was in keeping with the hospital’s vision. There are 17 kinds of individual drawings on the wall, each is a different concept.”

Ann Cosgrove, the manager of Galway University Hospitals, said it is delighted to facilitate this project to raise awareness of the “very important issue of mental health”.

“Hundreds of people, including patients, staff and visitors come through UHG every day and I hope that they take a couple of minutes to engage with the installation and get something positive from it.” 

Margaret Flannery, Galway University Hospitals arts director, said Finbar247 and GUH Arts Trust’s vision for changing spaces and how people feel in them is being realised this week with the coming together of the hospital community, supporters of the arts trust and local businesses.

“We are so grateful to everyone who has helped make this happen and we hope the transformation will encourage and inspire people. Workshops and talks will be held to explain the concepts and further details are available from the arts office at (091 ) 544979.”

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