Students make a show of how art can help with occupational therapy

Tue, May 13, 2014, 01:00

An exhibition of print and textiles that opens today at the Jennings Gallery in University College Cork (UCC) highlights how making art affects health.

The exhibition, entitled The Art of Making, is by 26 first-year students of occupational therapy at UCC, who spent six weeks working with the Cork Printmakers and Frances Leach of the Cork Textiles Network. The students were encouraged to learn more about themselves as “occupational beings”.

Art and craft has been associated with occupational therapy since the foundation of the profession. Occupational therapists are expected to understand the importance of creativity to health and wellbeing.

For one of the exhibitors, Sinéad Holly, who made an ink print of the rock star Jimi Hendrix, the experience was very positive.

“Making art makes it easy to get into a state of flow where you lose your train of thought,” she said. “Sometimes, for people with a mental illness, it can be hard to express yourself. Making art is a great way of expressing yourself. I would be a big advocate of it.”

For Peter Nunan, one of two males in the occupational therapy class, the artistic experience “was challenging at the beginning. I chose weaving and found it very frustrating but after a while, thanks to Frances, it became easier. She taught eight of us to weave but she didn’t put too much emphasis on the finished product.

“After a while, I really got into it and got used to using fine motor skills. I would definitely use it if I worked as an occupational therapist.”

Maria Cradock made a print of a girl’s face using linoleum. “The process was really wonderful,” she said. “I found myself becoming immersed in it and being in the zone, forgetting about any problems I had.

“If I ever have the opportunity to work with people who have depression, I really think art would help. It boosts selfesteem.”

The Art of Making runs from this evening until June 10th. The Jennings Gallery is located in the Brookfield Health Sciences Complex at UCC. The exhibits will be on sale.