A better world. Isn’t that what most people want? I don’t pretend to understand the complexities of global politics and, even though my thoughts are very much with the people of France this week, I’ll stick with the post I was writing and tell you about an art exhibition at Pavee Point in Dublin’s inner city.
Did you know that suicide accounted for 11% of all deaths in the Travelling community in Ireland? – or that male Travellers are 6.6 times more likely to die by suicide than males in the general Irish population? High suicide rates are observed in many indigenous ethnic communities around the world but not to the same extent as those observed in Irish Travellers.
“Lived Lives” is a touring exhibition which arose from engagements with over a hundred families about the lives of their loved ones, lost to suicide. It was such a deeply affecting exhibition. In one room, items donated by the families – dancing shoes, a coffee cup, a trophy, a football jersey, a debs dress, an electric guitar… items that reminded them of their young people’s lives. In another room, a video of family members talking about them, and then finally, the installation of shirt collars (above), each collar weighing 21 grams to signify the imagined weight of the soul as it leaves the body.
A series of workshops was organised during the exhibition to encourage people to talk about suicide. Artist Seamus McGuinness writes: “by working together in a creative manner, we aim to bridge, translate and transform the divide between awareness, knowledge and action that is sustained by stigma in relation to suicide within an indigenous minority ethnic group.” This was a collaborative arts/science project, in collaboration with Prof. Kevin M. Malone of UCD. Everyone we met at Pavee Point Traveller & Roma Centre was kind and supportive.
A better world? I believe that art can definitely make a difference. What do you think? Click on the little brown speech bubble up at the top right of this post and put your comment there. Talk soon, eoin