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Cork Compassionate Culture Network

Cork Compassionate Culture Network


Arts for Health artist Tess Leak and printmaker Mary Callaghan worked simultaneously with their groups in Bantry and Clonakilty to explore loss through the creation of haiku-inspired poetry, drawing, and printmaking. On long winter walks in between sessions, they collected ‘haiku objects’ as starting points for drawings and conversations. As Tess said:  

Haiku is a form people can connect to in a very simple way. It’s got a lovely structure, those three lines, that’s a kind of support. What’s great about using creativity to talk about grief and loss is that we don’t have to talk about them. We can just share something we’ve written, or made, or drawn, so that we can share in an indirect way if we want to.” 

Participant feedback informs the impact was profound, reflected in the commitment to attend and outcome of creative work.  As one participant said:  

“It was like a nest. You came in, sat down, and listened to people’s stories. And then you say, sure my story is something similar. But you don’t think everyone else is grieving. I probably said things here, I’ve never said in my life. I’ve had three deaths in my family and never grieved. I was a working man trying to make a living. I never thought about grieving. Grieving was for someone else.”” 

Composer and multi-instrumentalist Justin Grounds, also from the Cork Arts for Health, joined the groups in December 2021 to co-create music as part of a spoken-word recording of their haiku collection.  

The programme culminated with a celebration event at Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre bringing both groups together for the first time. A podcast was also commissioned by Uilinn to record the experience and outcomes from the perspective of artists and participants.  

You can listen to the short (2:30 minutes) ‘haiku-music’ recording below: 

A collectively-made haiku ready for sharing with the world:

unravelling loss

laughs, tears, ebb and flow of life

our haiku journey

The Compassionate Culture Network project in Cork is supported through the Arts for Health Partnership, managed by Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre and is in conjunction with Cork Education and Training Board.

Below are a sample of some of the haiku poems / artwork created.