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06 Jul 2022

Kildare artist chosen for new exhibition featuring artists with intellectual disabilities

Kildare artist chosen for new exhibition featuring artists with intellectual disabilities

Rathangan artist Jenny Stafford pictured with dogs Rockie and Josie. Pic Supplied

A Kildare Artist has been chosen to participate in an inaugural exhibition to platform Artists with Intellectual Disabilities.

Jenny Stafford from Rathangan is one of ten Artists chosen by Connections Arts Centre (CAC) to participate in the bold and innovative exhibition to be held later this month.

Commenting on the upcoming event, Jenny said: "I have exhibited paintings before, it was great so I’m so looking forward to this exhibition.

"I work hard on my paintings so being chosen to participate is fantastic for me. I attend Arts classes in Rathangan and get lots of support from KARE".

Connections Arts Centre, dedicated to connecting members of the Disability community through the arts was the brainchild of Miriam Spollen, a long-time advocate and worker in the Arts and Disability sector.

'A BLESSING IN DISGUISE'

Miriam explained: "I lost my job in 2021 due to Covid, but really it was a blessing in disguise as I now had time to develop a business idea that I had been contemplating for over 10 years.

"In the midst of Covid, Connections Arts Centre (an online platform) was developed to connect and support people with disabilities through the Arts.

She continued: "In March earlier this year, CAC opened its base in Rathgar in Dublin, where they now run a selection of Training, Arts, and lifestyle programmes."

"We have supported 600 participants since our inception just last year; this has been a mixture of online and in person and it has been so rewarding and encouraging to see the engagement and enthusiasm by participants."

She added that the group as worked with and supported participants from organisations such as Enable Irelands, Rehab, Walk, Gheel Autism Services and more.

Miriam elaborated: "This programme provides an immersive, supportive and interactive environment for artists with intellectual disabilities, empowering then to develop their creative practice and to hone their natural talents.

"The exhibition is showcasing the work of ten Artists who participated in the online programme; but this is not then end for these Artist, they are developing their own collective and will continue to meet monthly online with the support of CAC.

"There is a wonderful atmosphere amongst our online community, the artists feel part of a wider arts world which feeds their wonderful creativity and imagination. It has been great to see such positive energy and community amongst the artists.

'IT'S ALL ABOUT CONNECTIONS'

"It’s been so fulfilling to watch so many artists support each other and develop their practice: it’s all about connections and giving the artists confidence, helping them to develop and perfect their natural creativity and highlighting their incredible talents to the wider community, while breaking down barriers."

Miriam says that the reaction to the upcoming exhibition is hugely positive and encouraging: "It is a wonderful achievement for the artists themselves first and foremost, and we are truly heartened by the response we are receiving from the broader public, both business and community.

"We have received some very welcome financial support for this programme from the Bank of Ireland’s ‘Begin Together Arts Fund’ in partnership with ‘Business to Arts’

"We had a very high level of entries for the exhibition, 67 in all and the quality was superb... It was so difficult whittling the list of exhibitors down to just 10 but really all the artists who got involved in any way are beacons of light for artists with intellectual disabilities.

"Our plan is to run the programme again in 2023 to support a new cohort of Artists."

She concluded: "We’re all so exciting about this forthcoming exhibition. The Artists themselves can’t wait and we can’t wait to showcase their incredible talents." 

FURTHER DETAILS

The event will take place at the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, 123 St. Stephen’s Green Dublin 2, from June 26 until June 29 between 3pm and 6pm.

Admission is free, but booking is essential.

Further details, including booking, can be accessed here.

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