@2016 by Rachel McManus.

St Josephs Hospital Circle of Life Project

St. Josephs Hospital Ennis is a nursing home that provides care to elderly people in the area and also has a Day Hospital services to the Ennis area and outer environs of County Clare. 

Between October 2018 and March 2019 two artists, Eleanor Feely, Artist in Residence at St Josephs, and Rachel Macmanus, a locally based artist, collaborated on a creative project with the residents and staff of St Josephs. "Time was spent weekly with the residents reflecting on memories of their lives, and discussing their views on what life is like for them now, in the present."

The project was named The Circle of Life as it mimics how the hospital works, and how life there as a resident is cyclical, and definitely non linear. The dance of life, and how the end becomes the beginning of something new. Asking the questions what is memory? What is now?

Visiting St Josephs was always a sensory experience, walking through long corridors bathed in light, echoing footsteps of brisk nurses and the slower shuffle of residents. The smell of dinner and the distant sound of singing from the chapel, the laughter from an open door and the rattling of a tea trolley. The familiar voices of staff and residents rising and falling, a nurse crouched down low to someone in a wheelchair.  All of life is within this place, and its residents, indefinable as a group, are community shapers from a generation ago, with incredible stories of times from a different era.

The Circle Of Life project in Glór aimed to showcase the rich tapestry of experience and life we the artists witnessed in St Josephs, and to allow the viewer to experience this through sound, visuals, story telling and sculpture.

The project culminated in a 2 day multimedia show held in glór, Ennis, Co Clare on 25/26th June 2019. The show featured artists talks from Rachel, a live performance from Eleanor, a soundscape featuring conversation and song from the residents and staff of the hospital, projected imagery and photography, a drawn memory wall and an arrangement of bedside lockers used as plinths featuring objects representing the contents found on and in bedside lockers. There were also musicians and singers to sing and intereact with the invited audience of St Josephs residents, staff, family members and the public.  The project was sponsored by Clare Arts Office and facilitated by the HSE Midwest. 

Throughout the timeline of the project we wrote a blog recording our experiences of making and meeting with the staff, residents, patients and family of St Josephs. Please see the link below to read the blog: 

https://stjosephshospitalcircleoflifeproject.wordpress.com/

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