The Connolly Collective Exhibition opens at Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown 25.05. in the Administration Building. It is the first viewing of the art works by the Collective which will be on extended loan to the Hospital to be distributed throughout the hospital for the enjoyment of patients, staff and visitors. The Connolly Collective have been supported by the Blancharstown Society ( a charity) and The Fingal Co Co Arts office.
The art work is informed by the historic fact that from the opening of Connolly hospital in 1955 a large number of women from institutions, like the Magdalene Laundries, were transferred here as “domestic staff”. They worked in the kitchen and the hospital laundry and some lived within the hospital for decades. This sculpture is a monument to these brave women and their survivors. The materials used, discarded hospital sheets and pillowcases, already had a powerful value related to their use but also, in this context, to who handled them. To remake the memory of these women, the sculptural processes involved tries to re-enact their working history; in the washing, rolling, stretching, ironing and folding of bed linen. The memories of lived and lost lives are in the folds and the layers of the sculpture, just as the indignities and crimes visited upon these women by society are multilayered and hidden away.
This textile sculpture have taken the form of the sun, which is the symbol of the energy of the world and all living life.
The sculpture is a celebration of all the ‘hidden” staff which performs vital roles within the hospital setting - The Linen Service, the laundry, kitchen and tailoring staff and staff involved in logistics, maintenance and cleaning.
The materials used, discarded hospital sheets and pillowcases, already had a powerful value related to their use but also, in this context, to who handled them. The materials have been reformatted and have taken on a different meaning with a new intrinsic value.
Portrait of a Hospital Tailor and his Tools
Connolly Hospital employed the last tailor in the health services in Ireland. John McGrath had worked at the hospital for 15 years and when he retired in April 2016 - he won’t be replaced. It signifies the end of this particular trade in a hospital context.
Portrait of a Laundry Lady
Rosanne Reilly , an important cog in this hospital’s machinery, has worked with the Linen Service for more than 30 years and is now the only member of staff left at the laundry.
Portrait of a Story Teller
Mick Roban started working at the hospital at age 18 and is today Head of Logistics; he was a strong trade unionist , is a playwright and a teller of historic anecdotes going back to the opening of the hospital in 1955.
The Irish Transport and General Workers Union have played an important part in the history of this hospital, particularly establishing Equality between mail and female employees and all the diverse disciplines within the hospital.