disABILITY Louth held an exciting Exhibition called “Breaking the Mould” on 7th February in Highlanes Gallery Drogheda.  Funded by Louth County Council through the Disability Participation and Awareness Fund, disABILITY Louth undertook this programme to promote equal opportunities, inclusion and awareness for the disabled communities across Louth.

The theme behind the title ‘Breaking the Mould’ refers to Breaking from Covid….those feelings of being alone, isolated and anxious.  Breaking out of confinement, returning to a new norm away from restrictions and lockdowns and tearing down barriers to include people with disabilities into an active and inclusive society.

Breaking the Mould was a 16 week art programme rolled out to four groups across Louth (ROC Services Drogheda, Irish Wheelchair Association Ardee, The Hub/St. John of Gods Blackrock and Rehab Care Quayside Dundalk) which started last September and finished up just before Christmas.    The art programme welcomed and enjoyed by all the participants in the four groups (34 in total) worked closely with four Artists (Caoimhe O’Dwyer, Goda Sirutyte, Maureen Finn and Nicola Crowe) to create individual and group Art Pieces using different art forms and textures.

At the launch Aoife Ruane, Curator and Director of Highlanes Gallery welcomed everyone in attendance and officially announced the Exhibition open to the public until April 15th.    The audience heard personal interactions with the Tutors and participants on their overall experience of the Art Programme and their enjoyment of having their Art on display at the Gallery for their family, friends and the wider community to see.    Speaking to Goda Sirutyte, John Moore from Rehab Care Quayside Dundalk said “the overall experience was very relaxing and I could use my hands more and it was very therapeutic.”    Mairead O’Hare from St. John of Gods Hub Blackrock spoke about her favourite colours she used with Caoimhe O’Dwyer “my favourite colour is red and my painting is of a Red Poppy” inspired by wild flower border planted by the group in the local park in Blackrock.   She also said “I loved the art programme and I now have my very own Art Journal, of my experience”. Nicola Crowe spoke about the Irish Wheelchair Association in Ardee and adapting her techniques to suit everyone, enabling everyone to enjoy the experience.  Susan Cunningham of ROC Services Drogheda spoke with Maureen Finn and while she spoke of what the programme meant to her, her words were resonated by all the other participants in the groups.

David Larkin Chairperson of disABILITY Louth thanked everyone in attendance and all the participants for their positive comments and feedback of the programme and how the opportunity created wonderful Art  “One of the objectives of disABILITY Louth is full equality and he thanked the Highlanes Gallery for displaying the Art Pieces in a wonderful setting”.

Annette Monaghan of disABILITY Louth thanked Louth County Council for funding this project and to Dara MacGabhann and her team at Louth Local Development for their guidance and support.    She said “thank you Aoife and your colleagues here in the Gallery, for your enthusiasm and dedication in promoting equal opportunities for everyone”  …  She also congratulated the participants and thanked them for their willingness to open up their lives, time and desire to embark on this programme and the remarkable collection that their family, friends and the wider communities across Louth and Ireland can now view and admire.    She encourages everyone to visit the Gallery over the coming weeks and recommends that you stay awhile and look out for the video on loop, capturing and documenting “Breaking the Mould” commissioned by Patrick McCabe of No Borders Media

The event closed thanks to Paul Gantly who wrote and sang “Happy While I’m Alive” which saw everyone joining in and clapping.     The Exhibition is open to the General Public from now till 15th April 2023.