Vital Signs 14-21 October 2009, Dublin
Vital Signs is a programme of arts and health events that took place in Dublin in October 2009. It included a conference in the Royal College of Physicians, a national exhibition in five venues in Dublin 8, and a series of opinion pieces about arts and health practice. Vital Signs is an Arts Council initiative, developed and delivered in association with Create, the national development agency for collaborative arts.
The Vital Signs conference took place in the Royal College of Physicians, Kildare Street, Dublin on 15 October 2009. The purpose of the conference was to bring artists, project managers, healthcare staff, service users, researchers and policy makers together to explore the opportunities and challenges of arts and health practice in Ireland today and to identify effective ways forward in terms of policy, strategy and partnership.
The conference, chaired by poet, playwright and RTÉ Radio presenter Vincent Woods, focused on the areas of arts participation, architecture, medical humanities and Percent for Art Scheme practice in healthcare contexts. It also explored: the opportunities and challenges for artists working in healthcare settings; the value of arts and health practice; the immediate needs of the sector and the way forward.
‘So I’m trying to write a poem that clusters about ideas of vision and healing: about language and who controls it, machine memory, human memory, the tablet culture, the five minute healer. The elderly relative who knows it’s not hayfever that ails him. And who isn’t listened to. The doctor who encourages his patients to communicate with him, in their own words, at their own pace.’
Missing language, silent voices and the art in listening - an essay by Clíodhna Shaffrey, Vital Signs exhibition catalogue
‘The contemporary artist operating within the interstices of healthcare disciplines, capable of intelligent and sensitive negotiation and strategic collaboration is a theme well demonstrated within the range of works being brought into public exhibition here by Michelle Browne.’
Recently, on that Sunday in Farmleigh, it was passionately, persuasively and potently suggested that as the institutions we once respected collapsed around us, the arts remain built on solid ground, undamaged, unbroken, thumpingly thriving, still vital to society’s well being. In other words, they are, now that you mention it, very well, thank you.
The Vital Signs exhibition, curated by Michelle Browne, took place in five Dublin 8 venues and included artwork by fourteen artists who collaborated with health service staff, service users and family members from around the country.
Michelle Browne sought to show a range of work that demonstrates the complexity, vitality and diversity of arts and health practice in Ireland today. A note from the curator is included in the exhibition section of the site.