Waterford Healing Arts Trust (WHAT) is one of Ireland’s leading arts and health programmes. Based in University Hospital Waterford, WHAT brings art experiences to the bedsides of patients through art exhibitions, an extensive art collection and music performances.
WHAT engages patients in art-making via its Art Kart, Artist in Residence programmes and Artist on Call services. It hosts a weekly Open Studio enabling people with diverse artistic and personal needs to make art, including those who use the Mental Health and Disability Services, and people living in Waterford who may be feeling socially isolated.
Funding from the National Lottery has enabled WHAT deliver arts workshops to mental health service-users. The programme, called Iontas, is facilitated by a team of skilled and experienced artists, including musicians, visual artists, dance artists, writers and animators. It promotes self-expression, autonomy, socialisation, relaxation, sense of achievement and recovery among participants.
Maeve Herraghty is a participant of WHAT’s Open Studio.
“When I first came to Waterford, not knowing anyone and with a history of both physical health issues and depression, isolation was one of my greatest fears. I was looking for somewhere where I could be with others and develop some skills in a safe, non-judgemental atmosphere. WHAT’s Open Studio has provided this and much more besides. Our weekly session is fun with plenty of chat and laughs. The time flies as we experiment with all the materials available. The Open Studio provides us with the opportunity to express ourselves artistically in a warm, relaxing and welcoming environment.”