When art and the ailing met...

Dated: December 31, 2014

Australian artist Daniel Connell cheers patients in hospital as he ‘portrays’ them in various moods

Kochi, Dec 31: His is a familiar face for patients at a leading hospital in India’s Biennale city.

Ever since Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF) launched the Arts and Medicine project February last, Australian artist Daniel Connell has fascinated patients by drawing their portraits with dexterity and ease.

The Young Connell, who was at the Ernakulam General Hospital, to participate in the 45th edition of the Arts and Medicine programme here on Wednesday last as part of the ongoing Kochi-Muziris Biennale, surprised the patients by inquiring about their well-being in their mother tongue Malayalam. Connel had stayed in Kochi earlier during the country’s first biennale that was held during 2012-13 for 96 days.

Currently pursuing a doctoral at School of Art, Architecture, and Design at the University of South Australia, Connell has travelled extensively across India exploring the potential of portraiture to generate human connectedness across cultures.

“Portraiture is a unique art form that helps one to be sensitive and reflective about their own personality. By looking at their own portraits, the patients will, for a while, think about themselves and the realities of life,” the Melbourne-based artist said.

“We never force the patients to come out and attend the programmes since that can be just impossible for some of them due to poor health conditions. However, what is happening here is truly encouraging. The patients at the hospital are very excited about the project and are ready to engage with the programme,” he added.

Connell also felt that the project needs to be taken to more hospitals, adding that hospitals should not be places of despair, but places of hope and happiness. Artists should visit hospitals, interact with people, and help the public realise the healing power of art, he added.

KBF Research Coordinator Bonny Thomas said 2014 has been a “fulfilling” year for ‘Arts and Medicine’ which began in February as a weekly project that would hold a music show every Wednesday. “I thank the hospital authorities, doctors, and staff for all their support,” he said. “As we enter the New Year, the KBF will come out with more such programmes in association with (Kochi’s) Mehboob Memorial Orchestra for the benefit of the patients.”

CB

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