‘I’ve never been to Kathmandu, but thanks to NLT’s fundraising exhibition “Borders: from Kathmandu to Kerry and Beyond”, two of my photographs have. I didn’t see the whole exhibition until it came to the Arthouse in Co Laois, by which time it had hung in Lalgadh Leprosy Hospital in Nepal and in Cill Rialaig Arts Centre on the coast of Kerry. Almost, you could see the journey the works had made.
All the works exhibited were roughly of the same size and hung in two rows, one above the other. Walking along the white walls of the Arthouse gallery and corridor felt nearly like looking through a series of windows, at landscapes and people and colours from the private worlds of each of the contributing artists. On one side of the gallery, through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the Arthouse itself, green grass and Irish weather told us where we physically were; but opposite them, through the window of each small art-piece, we could take imaginative journeys to Himalayan mountains, Irish country sides, children on glinting seashores, dancing women against sunsets, watery flowers, vibrant colour-splashes and black & white silhouettes. It was a joyous and joyful celebration of difference and unity: playful artists from differing backgrounds hanging side-by-side in order to raise money for one serious disease: leprosy.
I’m told that as little as four euro is all it costs to make a pair of bespoke shoes for people whose feet no longer feel the earth due to the nerve damage leprosy can cause, that six euro can sponsor an overnight bed for someone who has travelled many miles to receive hospital treatment; that a well and a pump can be built for 250 euro and a two-roomed village school can be built from just 1,000 euro. Thanks to the generosity of people who bought our work at the various exhibitions, it’s possible that close to 450 pairs of shoes might have been made and distributed, or that 600 people slept in hospital beds before journeying home after treatment, or that perhaps 15 wells were built, or at least three village schools. It’s deeply satisfying. I make a piece of work; someone likes it and welcomes it into their home somewhere in Ireland; and someone in Nepal who is living with leprosy has a night’s rest, puts on their shoes and goes home to their village where water flows and their children go to school. It’s that simple. It’s that direct.
The theme of the exhibition was “Borders”. Sometimes it feels as if there are no such things’.
Blog by artist Sharon Hogan Oct 2015.