Inspired by a 2006 publication by patients of Merlin Park University Hospital, in which older people shared their knowledge of the Irish landscape and its customs, The Deepest Shade of Green explores the importance of connecting our hospitals with the natural world outside and of listening to and learning from those who use them. Nature and familiar landscapes of the West are brought into the wards, corridors, and waiting rooms of Saolta’s hospitals, helping people to imaginatively escape the clinical context, or to reconnect with the places and things that matter to them.
Beginning with an exploration of medicinal plants, which drew attention to the ways we harvest and synthesize nature in order to heal, the programme concludes with a survey of inspirational healthcare settings where nature prevails – through commissioned art, biophilic design, and hospital gardens created for therapy, patient meals, and for the local community.
Newly commissioned works include a song cycle by Ceara Conway, interweaving traditional healing songs with experimental compositions which incorporate recordings of hospital equipment, plants, and the tools of sound healers. This was shared as a series of intimate live performances, televised to patients’ bedsides from a hospital chapel, and gifted as a CD to patients across Saolta’s hospitals. Deirdre O’Mahony created an online audio-based artwork using a scripted voiceover and ambient recordings made in Saolta’s catchment areas to evoke the particular character of the West of Ireland. Sarah Fuller and Manuela Corbari collaborated to lead young patients and their families through an enchanting garden of stories, combining puppetry, storytelling, sound and shadow play – first as immersive bedside performances, then as a limited edition shadow box theatre for Saolta’s youngest patients. Though each commission was created especially for the hospital, online iterations are shared here for everyone.