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Springtime imaginings: Cloudlands artist development days

Another round of Artist Development Days on the Cloudlands project took place in February 2014. Cloudlands is a hospital-based arts and technology project which engages artists and teenagers in a creative, collaborative process based on the interests, ideas and experiences of the participants.

Over two days, the project’s artists in residence, Emma Fisher (Galway) and Rachel Tynan (Dublin) and former artist in residence Eszter Nemethi (Cork) came together in the F2 Centre, Rialto. The sessions were facilitated by the Cloudlands artist mentor, Mark Storor.

The aim of the development sessions is to facilitate the artists to reflect and build on the learnings from their work in the hospitals, with a view to deepening the impact of the programme both for the teenage collaborators and for the artists’ personal practice.

Russian Dolls - Cloudlands Artist Development Days February 2014

Discussions centred on the growing collaboration between artists and hospitals and how that can be further developed, as well as how the Cloudlands online platform can support greater communication and sharing between artists and teenager participants. In University Hospital Galway, teenagers have developed a collaborative story-book of their creations. As the book develops, participants can log into the online platform to see how the story is unfolding. In Temple Street Children’s University Hospital, Dublin, Russian Dolls are the focus for interaction among project participants with teenagers creating their own dolls with fragments of stories inside. These dolls are then sent around the hospital and to teen collaborators in the participating hospital in Galway.

A new mini-project was conceived as a starting point for further collaboration between the artists and project participants in both Dublin and Galway. A date was set to carry out a day-in-the-life style photo documentary project, where both artists and participants would take a photo of what they were doing hourly and share their images on the online platform. This included the participation of Eszter who was spending that day in Amsterdam.

Photo an hour project Cloudlands Spring 2014

Emma Fisher: “Today we took a photo an hour and made the first woman astronaut in space. We are sending astronauts out into the world. Who knows where they will turn up?”

Through a lively brainstorming session, ideas for using the hospital spaces outside the specific wards of the participants were teased out. Strategies for encouraging greater interaction with hospital staff, teenagers in other hospitals and the world beyond the hospital began to take shape. In Galway, Emma and the teenagers plan to send avatars from the storybook out into the larger hospital setting, as well as to people and places beyond. They will ask recipients to photograph the avatar in its new location and make a sound recording  which can then be returned to the senders. In Dublin, Russian Dolls will visit teenagers in other hospitals with stories inside them to be shared. Other ideas to be developed in the next few months of the project include a sound quilt with audio messages from teenagers strategically located in the hospital setting to reach staff and other patients; an app which allows teenagers to create stories and add to them collaboratively; and links with a hospital radio station connecting project participants in both hospitals. With work-lists and time-lines padded out, an exciting new phase of Cloudlands in Dublin and Galway is well under way.

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