Art at the Dublin Dental University Hospital
The Dental Hospital has an extenstive art collection.
The building was built as a dental hospital, the most modern in Europe in the early 1900’s. The value and place of art in health was not recognised at that time but portraiture was very much the institutional vogue. A small number of portraits have survived – a Sarah Purser portrait of the architect of the Hospital (shown on the right) and a Walter Osbourne portrait of the first Dean of the Dental School.
When, 100 years later, we came to refurbish and expand the facilities and we recognised the need to include artworks both as a compliment to the striking architecture of the building and to the increasing recognition of the role of arts in healthcare. In 1998 we commissioned Vivienne Roche to design a piece of her choice. The result is Wave Shadow, a soothing reflection of the waters beside her home in West Cork constructed in bronze and glass to reflect and soften the lines of the architecture. We also purchased a range of works by other established Irish artists, Phelim Egan, Sean McSweeney, Charles Tyrell etc. to complete the 1998 project. Over the last 13 years the Hospital has extended its art collection. In 2010, as part of the refurbishment of the Lincoln Place education facilities, the Hospital invited selected artists to design a piece to complement the building. Fergus Martin was awarded the commission.
The debate on the role of arts in health is a welcome contribution both to the development of the arts and the improvement in well-being and physical environment for health. A European conference organised by the Arts Council discussed the themes of Imagining the Body, Knowing Spaces, Sensing the non-Visual and Narration and Time as elements contributing to the role of the Arts in the widest sense to Health. Our contribution is in support of the shaping of the physical environment for our patients, students and staff.
Our Art policy is two-fold. Firstly to hold a collection of works by established artists which will stand the test of time and which can be sold on at a future date to fund newer works. Secondly, to purchase works by young emerging Irish artists as an encouragement and support to them and an opportunity for us to explore different works, media etc.
These are just small steps in what we see as a long-term commitment to art in health. Although concentrating originally on a singular element, we have now included sculptures, photographs and instillations. We look forward to generating a collection of critical mass, which will be self-sustaining and which allows for the exploration of new talent.