Merlin Park based artist to explore realities of living with kidney failure

A short film focusing on daily exchanges between the patients and staff of the dialysis unit of Merlin Park Hospital will be screened in Galway as part of the TULCA 2010 visual arts festival.

The film, made by artist James Ó hAodha who spent a six week residency in Merlin Park, will be shown in the Fairgreen Gallery, Fairgreen Road, from 4pm to 7pm from November 6 to 21. It will be displayed on a hand-wound editor/viewer which is being mounted on a modified blood pressure monitor stand.

Mr Ó hAodha was involved in one of three artist residencies which form part of this year’s TULCA festival. The artist spent six weeks in the dialysis unit of Merlin Park Hospital which brought him into contact with the patients who spend an average of four hours a day, three days a week there.

Dialysis may be a long or indefinite treatment for kidney failure and the unit plays an important role in the day-to-day lives of the patients.

Throughout his residency, Mr O’hAodha found that each individual has his/her own distinctive relationship with staff and fellow patients and he noted that among patients there was a “real appreciation of the staff, and vice versa”.

Mr Ó hAodha had not previously worked within a healthcare setting, and as a result the residency involved stepping into an unfamiliar context. “The normally closed setting of Unit 7 was made open to me,” he said. “Many individuals there were willing to share their experiences, and my working process became an open and visible one.”

Margaret O’Toole, the business manager at Merlin Park Hospital, said Ó hAodha’s work “depicts a sense of community at Unit 7, where the bond between individual patients and staff is part of the atmosphere within the dialysis unit”.

Ms O’Toole also said: “Projects like this help people to remember that patients are seen as individuals and help us to achieve the best results we can for our patients – healing the body and mind.”Admission to the exhibition is free.

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