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Chain of Charms, 2012
Oncology Department, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin
Commissioned by: Health Service Executive, Dublin
Architects: O’Connell Mahon Architects
Materials: Artwork in glazed porcelain
Techniques: High fires ceramics with printed images fired onto the surface
Dimensions: 22m x 0.5m
Ceramic chain with photographic prints
Everybody needs a little luck. Some people believe in the power of prayer, a higher being, or a lucky charm. Some get their inner strength from the love of their family or the kindness of strangers. Whatever keeps people going through adverse times is a very personal choice. This artwork conveys some of these personal supports in this ceramic artwork. Throughout time, different cultures have worn charms often in the form of a piece of jewellery with amulets which have important meanings for the wearer. These remind them of significant events in their life or could be a symbol of a belief. Made from lightly textured, mono-printed colored ceramic shapes with images representing things such as love, faith, happy memories, significant events, friends, animals, days out, laughter and words. The images are printed onto the clay surface and include patients families, places of significance and some of their own artwork.
Approach to Delivery of Artwork:
This artwork was one of two in two different areas of Dublin but which had identical units. Each area was treated in a different way, this one in Beaumont Hospital had the artwork entitled “Chain of Charms” the other in St James had artwork entitled “Wave” inspired by the proximity to the sea and the fact that the treatment uses radio waves.
The staff and patients in Beaumont were very keen for this piece to incorporate their own personal story which varied greatly from person to person. Some had places that they used to take walks, others wanted to remember loved ones in a personal way. It was important to talk to people involved in the unit, to physically see where each patient sat, waited and walked through the space before being able to work out a design idea. Flexibility is important and the courage to change designs if they weren’t working is important to the coherence of the whole piece.
Community and Stakeholder Engagement:
Staff and patients were encouraged to participate in the designs for this artwork by filling in a short form left in the waiting area and became very involved with all the responses helping the artist create the different kinds of images used for each charm.
From the start, this commission was going to be a very personal piece for the staff and patients due to the emotive feelings in the unit. Having a very good working relationship with the staff members involved meant that patients could feel free to send by email (or have sent for them) images and words which were extremely important to have included in the artwork.
The artist’s job was then to construct a piece which fulfilled the brief above by including the images, words and shapes into an engaging and decorative artwork, one which would continue to engage both staff and patients who are using the unit on a daily basis whilst ensuring the overall artwork is made to the highest standards in design and execution.