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09 Dec 2021

Art and health merge in Laois for the Portlaoise 'Leave a Light On' project

Art and health merge in Laois for the Portlaoise 'Leave a Light On' project

Dunamaise Arts Centre is proud to announce a brand new initiative entitled ‘Leave a Light On’ - a mental wellbeing campaign which will be launched over the October Bank Holiday weekend.

This is a collaborative project, funded by Healthy Ireland Laois and commissioned by Dunamaise Arts Centre. Artists and local secondary school students were commissioned to create window designs inspired by the theme of nurturing positive mental health, under the leadership of the projects Guest Curator, Caroline Keane and aims to foster a sense of positive mental health in our community.

This initiative stems from the first Local Community and Development Committee (LCDC) Healthy Laois Plan 2018-2020, that was developed in association with Laois County Council, under the National Government Framework, to improve Health and Wellbeing and contains a specific action to support the delivery of the “Introduction to Youth Mental Health” and “Minding Youth Mental Health”.

‘Leave a Light On’ is a project to light up the darkness, creating a gallery of unique window displays. Artists and local secondary school students created wonderful transparent paper artworks, designed to hang in windows of Portlaoise town centre and shine bright in the winter evenings.  Exercising positive mental health habits by developing empathy, self- awareness and self-management, from the process of creating an artwork that will be illuminated in the town centre. 

Over a series of sessions, teachers and artists guided the students through the art making process creating a design; illustrating their thoughts; while showing them how to expressively capture their ideas. The artists, art teachers and students worked collaboratively on all aspects of the artistic process, to make sure the art pieces expressed a sense of positive mental health and were ready for exhibition. 

Caroline Keane explained more about the project.. 

“For some window spaces participating in this project, there was an Artist Call for the wider community to participate, young creatives, artists, art students and teenagers who are home schooled. There was a really positive reaction and the designs which best met the criteria, based on the art medium and subject of fostering mental wellness, were selected”, she said. 

Along with the Dunamaise Arts Centre, the participating businesses who are facilitating a window for this initiative are Shaws Department Stores, Irish foot & Hand Spa, Nook & Cranny, Gerry Browne Jewellers, Anthem Music, Old Fort Piercing & Tattoo, EBS Main Street, the Office Centre, Tax Assist Accountants, Vimar Digital Marketing. Laois County Council has joined in this initiative with Art installations fitted at its headquarters at Áras an Chontae, Portlaoise.

The Library Service is also supporting this initiative to continue through the month of November, by channelling packs and materials to the wider communities of Laois to take part and create their own window designs at home.

The pubic will be able to enjoy a Virtual Tour of the exhibition and scan QR Codes, placed at all participating businesses to follow the exhibition trail around Portlaoise town centre. Physical map trails of the exhibition can be found  at the Dunamaise Box Office, where the art trail commences and where it concludes at Áras an Chontae.

During the virtual tour, a video presentation is attached to a QR code and maps of the exhibition trail itself, where there will be important information contacts and details on Mental Wellbeing and Suicide Prevention supports that are available.

In addition, there will be a YouTube video prepared from the event itself and this will be published on all social media platforms including the Healthy Ireland and Laois Connects pages of www.laois.ie, all Dunamaise Arts Centre platforms and www.dunamaise.ie .

Dunamaise Arts Centre acknowledges the funding it has received from “The Healthy Ireland Fund, supported by the Department of Health and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Affairs”, an initiative of the Government of Ireland, administered by Laois County Council, LCDC and Healthy Ireland Laois, as well as the Arts Council. 

The art goes live in Sunday, October 24 at 8pm

Further information on this initiative is available by contacting the Healthy Ireland Team in Laois County Council at email:   healthylaois@laoiscoco.ie

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