Exploring “The Mental”, an exhibition examining a much neglected aspect of local and national heritage, will be on view at St Canice’s Psychiatric Hospital, Kilkenny, from August 20 to 28 during Heritage Week.
Less a history of the hospital than a people’s history of life within its walls, the exhibition seeks to throw light on an institution and many others like it around the country with which until recent times every family had some degree of connection.
Exploring “The Mental” is the fifth and final installation of the Personal Effects Project begun by artist Alan Counihan in 2012 as an investigation of the institutional archives and the belongings of dead or discharged patients from Grangegorman Mental Hospital in Dublin which has received wide coverage in national media. Ghosts of Grangegorman, a radio documentary based on the project, was produced and broadcast by RTE Radio 1 in September 2015.
The exhibitions have proven an effective tool for the presentation of the history of institutional care for those deemed to have been living with mental ill health in Ireland, for public discussion of that challenging history and of models for change and improvement in the delivery of Ireland’s mental health care services. This exhibition seeks to encourage collaborative and communal involvement in a process of acknowledgement, catharsis and healing which might contribute positively to the future delivery of services within the county and further afield.
Exploring “The Mental” is not an art exhibition. Any artistic content lies in the presentation of real facts and the experiences of real people. The development of this work has been suported by the Health Service Executive and by an Artlinks Bursary Award. The exhibition is in the old mortuary building of St Canice’s Hospital from 11am – 4pm daily during Heritage Week.
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