The third annual Art Exhibition hosted by Wexford Mental Health Association (WMHA) was launched on Friday afternoon, October 18th, at the WMHA offices in Henrietta St., Wexford. More than 85 artists are exhibiting at this year’s event, an increase on the previous two years, testifying to the popularity of this annual event in the Wexford Arts calendar. The Art Exhibition features the work of amateur artists from all over the county and beyond. Wexford MHA offers the opportunity for artists to showcase their work for the duration of the Opera Festival. There is Art, Photography, Sculpture and Poetry on display in this exhibition.
The exhibition runs for the three weekends of the Opera Festival from 11.0-4.00 on Saturday and Sunday and also on the Bank Holiday Monday.
MC for the Creativity Counts Art Exhibition was Alice Doyle, Chairperson of Wexford MHA. Ms Doyle introduced the speakers in her own inimitable way, declaring herself absolutely delighted to be at this wonderfully positive and affirming yearly event. Ms Doyle assured all present that the work being done by board members of Wexford MHA was all voluntary. She urged people to fundraise for Wexford MHA to help to expand on existing services and create more helpful and supportive initiatives, such as this wonderful Art exhibition. She promised that that any monies received were used to promote initiatives and aid recovery for those in mental health difficulties.
As an example of fundraising, she thanked Susan Davies and sister Maura for so generously donating an art work each for public auction during the exhibition. She invited all present to come to the exhibition and place a bid on these lovely paintings, either this very afternoon or during the three weekends of the exhibition.
The Exhibition was formally opened by by Mr George Lawlor, Mayor of Wexford, and he spoke in glowing terms of the work that is continually being done by Wexford MHA. The town’s Mayor surveyed the room which he described as festooned with wonderful works of art. He professed himself enormously proud and so lucky to be living in Wexford, particularly at this time of year when we have the Opera Festival; and Art Exhibitions have always been an integral part of the Opera Festival. He is confident that ‘Creativity Counts’ rivals all other Art Exhibitions in Wexford at this time.
He congratulated Wexford MHA for always being in the forefront, in all of its 41 years in existence, offering hope and recovery to those experiencing mental health difficulties. He said that Mental Health Ireland and Wexford MHA have continually opened up everything they have to offer to the community to dive into the services and initiatives and be part of the ongoing recovery process. He particularly praised the initiative ‘A Face in the Crowd,’ a powerful theatre in education programme, run by Wexford MHA. As Chairman of Marine Watch he said that he is constantly heartened by the message of hope and the promise of assistance to recovery that always is evident in all the is offered by Wexford MHA.
Seamus Codd, former Manager with ACC Bank and WMHA Board Director, with the important role of financial advisor, delighted all with his poem about his car breakdown, when none other than MC Alice Doyle and her husband Tom came to his rescue. Seamus not only has shown his poetic talents at the Art Exhibition, he has also starred as a voice over in the recent WMHA promotional video.
Martin Rogan, CEO of Mental Health Ireland travelled from Dublin, as he does each year, to support the Art Exhibition. He professed himself disappointed that the M11 motorway ended in Oylegate but said that that and the traffic that he encountered did not in the slightest deter him from travelling for the third year in a row to support the annual ‘Creativity Counts’ Art Exhibition. He was amazed at the calibre and the quality of the work on display and was delighted to witness the volume of Art work, which even covered the windows and all other available space. He described Art as being different to language; language is powerful but when it falls short, this is where Art comes in. He praised the creativity within Wexford MHA, reminding his spellbound audience that the people who are responsible for Wexford MHA are all volunteers who are working tirelessly to help people to create pathways back from difficult times. He reminded us that when we do things as amateurs, we are doing and creating Art for the love of what we do and thereby we invest passion, energy and our various hurts to create our work. He finished by praising the generosity of artists who donated the proceeds of their work to Wexford MHA.
Niall O’Muiri, Board Director of Wexford MHA, and former Community Mental Health Nurse, spoke of the proven benefits of using Art for positive mental health. Niall, the loquacious playwright, recalled anecdotes from his working life which illustrated very succinctly the benefits of all of the Arts in the recovery journey. In his own experience of working with people with mental health difficulties, he found that Art in particular helped people to find a way back. He praised the work of Wexford MHA for all their really worthwhile and ground breaking initiatives, mentioning in particular Sport, Yoga, Dance, Music and Horticultural projects. Quoting form ‘The Artist’s Way’, which affirms that there is an artist in each one of us, he said that he was in awe of the artists whose work is on display in this wonderful exhibition. He told them to be proud and to say proudly to themselves: ‘I’ve a painting hanging in the WMHA art gallery on Wexford during the Opera Festival.’
Susan Davies, Artist, talked of her life journey, using Art as a wellness tool. Her descriptions of her sometimes difficult nights when she just picked up a brush and played with her paints were as poetically breath taking as are her works of Art. Susan described Art as being good for the soul; she has two works on display for sale and has generously donated a third work to be auctioned, with all proceeds from the auction being donated to Wexford MHA. Wexford MHA would like to acknowledge their appreciation for this very generous donation.
MC Alice Doyle thanked all the artists for their support of this very worthwhile Arts initiative. She thanked the artistic supporters of the artists who scaffolded the creativity within the artists themselves. She especially wanted to thank artists who donate their time and creative talents to Wexford MHA. She also wished to express the gratitude of WMHA to all of those who have worked tirelessly to bring the Art Exhibition to fruition; she made special mention of Board Director and Senior OT Ciaradh Walsh and Theresa Codd Goff, Administration Support Officer with WMHA. She paid tribute to those who worked behind the scenes, Emily Redmond and Jimi Cullen, Elaine and Liz Power, Michael Dunbar and Annette Wall in particular and all those who have offered to curate the exhibition for its duration and all who have helped during the busy opening afternoon of the Exhibition. Such are the persuasive powers of this leading lady that she even persuaded the four time Mayor of Wexford to give his own lyrical and powerful rendition of ‘Boolavogue,’ written by P J McCall, first cousin to her grandfather!
Most of the art works on display are for sale. Do drop in to support ‘Creativity Counts’ and maybe pick up a piece of Art to brighten up your home and provide you with many hours of pleasure!
The exhibition runs on 19th, 20th, 26th, 27th, 28th October and 2nd and 3rd November from 11.00-4.00 pm daily. We look forward to seeing you there! You will not be disappointed!