Gallery to accompany Magdalene memorial

by Sylvia Pownall
A sculpture made from recycled bed linen, steel pins and wire mesh on display in the gallery

A group of artists has created a path of health at Connolly Hospital, by opening the first permanent art gallery on the wards of the Blanchardstown medical campus.

The artists, known as Connolly Collective, teamed up with the Blanchardstown Hospital Society for the project which aims to establish a more creative and artist environment for patients, staff and visitors.

The gallery at the Elm/Maple ward is accompanied by a memorial to the women transferred from Magdalene Laundries and other institutions to work as domestic staff in the hospital laundry and kitchen when it opened in 1955.

The sculpture, entitled Embedded Memories, is by Mette Sophie Roche who heard the stories of the women from long-term staff at the hospital.

Mette told Dublin Gazette: “They no longer work at the hospital and many of them have passed away I expect.

“They worked in the kitchen and the laundry and some lived within the hospital for decades. This sculpture is a monument to those brave women.

“The materials used, discarded hospital bed linen, already had a powerful value related to their use, but also, in this context, to who handled them.

“To remake the memory of these women, the sculptural processes involved trying to re-enact their working history – in the washing, rolling, stretching, ironing and folding of bed linen.

“The memories of lived and lost lives are in the folds and the layers of this sculpture, just as the indignities and crimes visited upon these women by society are multilayered and hidden away.”

The Sli na Slainte exhibition was officially opened by Professor Tom Walsh earlier this month and features art both created and curated by Connolly Collective.

The launch was made possible by a generous donation from Prof Walsh and all pieces are for sale with 20 per cent of sales donated to the Blanchardstown Hospital Society – the charity attached to the hospital.

You can find Connolly Collective on Facebook or email connollycollective@gmail.com for more information.

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