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Embracing the arts with annual exhibition

Alan Shoosmith, co-ordinator of the Clare Arts Office Embrace Programme, with artist Margaret Lohan Gunning (DPOC) and her painting Beachwalk in Glór, where the Embrace exhibition runs until the end of May. Anne Dunne of the DPOC looks on in the background. Photograph by John KellyTHE 10th annual Embrace exhibition is at Glór until the end of the month, showcasing the work of those who have participated in the Clare Arts Office initiative to help local people with disabilities access the arts.

 

Alan Shoosmith is co-ordinator of the Embrace programme for the Clare Arts Office and, in his role, brings together artists and musicians who work with groups with disabilities to help them produce various types of art.

“Once a year we produce an exhibition of all of that work and it’s pretty varied,” he says of what is now on show in Glór.

“What we have in the exhibition this year would be a wide selection of different types of painting. There’s a lot of textile art made using felted wool, there’s mosaic, sculpture work in paper maché and clay and there’s a lot of musical instruments that were made by members of Enable Ireland. It’s pretty varied and colourful and I’d say it’s an achievement by the 100 or so people who are involved,” he says of this year’s fare.

When the exhibition opened last week, there was a chance for performers to get involved. “It featured the performing arts as well, with people who had done music and dance and they had an opportunity to go on stage at the opening and perform for those who were there and show their skills.”

He feels taking part in the Embrace programme offers a lot of benefits to participants. “Apart from the fun element and they all enjoy taking part in the programme of arts, that’s clear to see; as well as that they learn a lot of different skills.”

There is a lot of activity taking place around the county almost all the time. “It’s ongoing. In addition to the exhibition, this programme of workshops is going on across the county. Twice a year we run them; some of them run for 20 sessions of an hour.

“There’s a second programme starting in September for the autumn and winter months, so there’s a lot going on across the county. We just bring it together for an exhibition once a year but every week different groups are making arts and crafts and taking part in events. It’s an ongoing programme that has been going on for over 10 years.”

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