IHF Seeds Grant programme 2020-21 was our first year running this programme. We set out to offer support to communities and individuals wishing to creatively explore dying, death, loss or grief. It started in the second wave of the pandemic during a full lockdown across Ireland, when all around us were facing great uncertainty and multiple challenges. 74 applications astonished us with their aspiration and diversity. They were a national audit of loss, and of hope. We are inspired by their care and their sensitivity. We were able to fund 11 inspirational initiatives. Enjoy exploring them below.
Martha Cashman, artist/sculptor made an urn for her brother who “wanted to be cremated but felt for my mother’s sake, who is 92, he wouldn’t do that but give her the traditional burial she is used to”. It reflects his love of motorbikes and nature. This project sits within a bigger ambition of creating personalised urns and exploring women in the funeral industry.
Meallan scéal scéal eile Hazel Greene and Kathy Hyland, a bereavement support services coordinator and art therapist in Galway Hospice Foundation, offered their community, who have experienced loss during COVID-19, an opportunity to share experience in words, music and poetry.
Chris Hayes at Crannóg Media produces the HedgeRadio podcast. With this project, he wanted "to give voice to those grieving and dying who cannot have loved ones close”. He began by creating an audio work on a dedicated website where he curated stories recorded with people affected by the pandemic.
Frank Monahan and the Architecture At The Edge team, who explore the role of architecture and its impact on our lives, have built a temporary installation proposed by architect David Kelly, that explores the boundary between life and death. It suggests how we can find a way to grieve and mourn the loss of a loved ones given the restrictions of social distancing and gathering. Visitors are invited to leave a token of remembrance or an offering before the installation is disassembled and set alight as a beacon of hope.
Jennifer Moran Stritch of the Limerick Institute of Technology Loss and Grief Research Group/Death Café Limerick, together with Jantien Schoenmakers, Marketing Consultant, and David O'Neil of Limerick City Community Radio set out to make a collective expression of grief when there is much grief but seemingly no place for it to go. Voice messages sent to a dedicated WhatsApp service were processed through soundwave software to create a unique image for each anonymised recording. Images were then posted on a dedicated website memorial.
Artist Michelle Collins facilitated residents of Marymount University Hospital and Hospice to explore loss, grief, reflection, and remembrance through lament and keening/caoineadh workshops. This project was supported by Cork County Council Library and Arts Service.
Sharon Murphy and Sadhbh O'Sullivan of Embrace Music developed a cycle of three songs reflecting and drawing on the breadth and depth of loss in the residential care communities they work with. Supported by Kildare Arts Office, the title refers to the outbreak of empathy in the pandemic. The final works are available as digital recordings online.
Róisín Freeney and the 45 members of Dunshaughlin Choral Society, an amateur community choir where all are welcome, play a central role in village life. They have composed and recorded an original collaborative piece to reflect the loss of members and loved ones in their village.
Joanne Ryan, theatre artist, specialises in making entertaining quality work about taboo and stigmatised subject matter. Supported by Limerick’s Lime Tree Theatre, and in collaboration with thanatologists and death historians, she will develop parts of a new performance interrogating issues around death that combines autobiography, documentary and research.
Spanish artist living in Donegal for 15 years, Maria Gasol’s father died due to COVID-19 in Barcelona last April. Her 6-year-old daughter trying to console her with care, innocence and imagination, led to a story-poem. As a volunteer in local residential care and community support agencies in West Donegal, she joined forces with community groups to illustrate the poem and create a digital illustrated book.
Gaultier GAA Club are deeply embedded in their community. Members of the club and the local community have been lost to COVID-19. With chair Richard Finnegan, they have created a memorial mural made with a local graffiti artist on a wall facing the Dunmore East-Waterford City Road to raise spirits and commemorate.