Dialysis Arts Programme, Unit 7, Merlin Park University Hospital




Participants of The Dialysis Arts Programme

Supported by
  • Irish Kidney Association
  • Galway University Hospitals
  • Saolta Arts
  • Galway International Arts Festival
  • NUI Galway
  • Community Knowledge Initiative
  • Institute for Lifecourse
  • National Museum of Ireland, Country Life

Our exhibition, The savage loves his native shore, for Galway International Arts Festival 2016 reflected on how the inspiration for person-centred art workshops in dialysis was often the landscape of the West of Ireland and its inherent culture and traditions. Since participants had launched The Western Shores collection of postcards at Galway Arts Centre in 2013, there had been countless hookers, half doors, and thatches painted in dialysis. Even in the kaleidoscopic worlds of others, there was usually a little Irish cottage at the end of their rainbows.

One day, whilst scrolling through pictures of Ireland’s waterfowl, a stick-dresser said to an artist, “It’s funny how we met isn’t it?” Indeed, the clinical confines of dialysis seemed an unlikely location for a woodworking project but the artist had set sail with an angler many times yet never rowed his boat. A box player too had taken her all over Connemara to revisit the scenes of songs he had written – all via a laptop and camera. By this means a farmer was also given a tour of the farming displays at the Museum of Country Life from his hospital bed, adding, “You see, the savage loves his native shore”. And with that, we had a title for a show celebrating three years of the Dialysis Arts Programme at Merlin Park University Hospital.

Finding a fitting home at the National University of Ireland, Galway, The savage loves his native shore celebrated the knowledge held by a hospital community that values its heritage. Items from the collections of the James Hardiman Library and the National Museum of Ireland, Country Life were exhibited alongside work by participants across two venues – the Institute for Lifecourse and the GUH Arts Corridor. Inspired by individual patient projects, the launch included demonstrations in thatching, butter-churning, and straw weaving. Visit the exhibition in this short film by Tom Flanagan.