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RAG does Late Night Art!
Members of RAG, NIKRF and PhD Students visit art galleries in Belfast

Late Night Art takes place on the first Thursday of every month in Belfast City Centre with many of the galleries participating. On the evening of Thursday 7th March 2024, a group of Renal Arts Group members set off from Queen’s University Belfast, with PhD students from the School of Nursing and Midwifery and representatives from the NI Kidney Research Fund. We hit the streets of Belfast City Centre for an art tour of some of the current exhibitions showing at local galleries.

We were lucky to be given a private tour of the University of Atypical to see the I AM? Exhibition which Brain Injury Matters is showing there currently. Ciara O’Malley, Arts Manager at Brain Injury Matters, talked us through the show, with two of the artists, Rene Boyd and Wendy Kelly, on hand to explain their work as well. It was such a privilege to see this work and hear the stories behind how the artists represent themselves and their work.

From there, we went to 2 Royal Avenue for the launch of Reflections, an exhibition by the Prison Arts Foundation. RAG Co-Chair, Stephen Green, whose work was being shown as part of this huge exhibition, was able to talk us through his striking artwork.

We finished off the evening with a lovely meal at Acton’s Restaurant, which was gratefully funded by the School of Nursing and Midwifery’s Senior Management Board.

Kidney Canvas - Hot desk your way around the science and art of kidney disease

Join us for an afternoon of hot desking, where experts and talented artists from the QUB Renal Arts Group will guide you through hands-on art interventions that are used to support and uplift kidney patients undergoing dialysis. Get inspired as you hear insights from local and regional kidney disease charities (Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund), showcasing the incredible work they do to transform the lives of patients and their families.

But that's not all! Ever dreamt of becoming a scientist? Step into our mini-lab and unleash your inner researcher as you build your very own candy DNA alongside QUB scientists from the Molecular Epidemiology and Public Health group. Discover how their ground-breaking research is revolutionizing therapies and interventions for kidney disease and be a part of this exciting journey.

Engage your mind with puzzles and unleash your creativity with vibrant activities, plus a special musical performance from the QUB Renal Arts Group band, Ragbone. This event promises a blend of art, science, music, fun and community, leaving you inspired and informed.

Tea, coffee and traybakes provided (including vegan and gluten free options)!

Tickets Available!
Arts Taster Days
Renal Arts Group members lead Arts Taster Days at Ulster Hospital

RAG Members Alistair MacKenzie, William Johnston, Stephen Greer, and Paul Sibley recently organised a series of Arts Taster Days for patients at the Ulster Hospital's renal unit, supported by charity partners Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund, Kidney Care UK, and Northern Ireland Kidney Patients Association.

The event aimed to raise awareness of how engaging with the arts can support patients' mental health and wellbeing, with William, Stephen and Paul sharing positive stories of discovering their creativity during dialysis and showcasing their artwork. Renal Social Worker Ali encouraged patients to get involved with the arts during their dialysis sessions, where he has been introducing a range of arts activities into the unit. Thanks to all who supported this fantastic event!

Reflecting Rays of Sunlight image
Reflecting Rays of Sunlight
Artmaking in dialysis and inpatient settings

In the final session of our PAINT Project summer series of online workshops, The Renal Arts Group was delighted to welcome Jenny Baxley Lee, Director of the University of Florida (UF) Health Shands Arts in Medicine programe, and Sarah Hinds, Visual Artist in Residence with UF Health. They introduced the Arts in Medicine programme, provided an overview of Sarah's visual art practice in dialysis, and facilitated a poetry and visual art activity for workshop attendees. The workshop slides are available to view at the link below.

Reflecting Rays of Sunlight Presentation
Nephro Art
Where Science Meets Art

In the second event of our PAINT Project Summer Series of online workshops, Mayleen Laico, a nephrologist practicing in Cebu City, Philippines, hosted a presentation of her work on Thursday 20th July at 1pm. Mayleen discovered a love of art later in life, incorporating anatomy and physiology into her work which she uses to communicate with her patients, and has been featured on the cover of the American Journal of Kidney Diseases and other academic journals.

The recording of the presentation is available to watch at the link below.

Watch Mayleen's Presentation
Captured Time Workshop
An experiential introduction to art-making in a renal dialysis unit

As part of the ongoing PAINT Project, the Renal Arts Group are hosting a Summer Series of online workshops, the first of which was an Zoom workshop on Monday 12th June, led by artist Philip Cullen from the University Hospital Waterford, who has over 16 years’ experience working in dialysis units. Claire Meaney, Director of Realta, the National Body of Arts and Health in Ireland about the Waterford Healing Arts Trust kicked off the workshop with a presentation about the how the arts programme in renal dialysis has developed since it's inception in 2006. Philip then discussed his own experience of creating art with dialysis patients, and led an art activity encouraging participants to draw using their non-dominant hand, and compose a haiku about their drawing. Participants then shared their work and discussed their experiences, with an opportunity to ask questions.

A huge thank you to all who attended the workshop. Information about upcoming events in our Summer Series will be available very soon!

Chris Bailey, World Health Organisation
Creativity and Confinement: Harnessing the creative power of hope

The Renal Arts Group were delighted to welcome Chris Bailey, Arts and Health Lead at the World Health Organisation (WHO), to an event in the Brian Friel Theatre on Monday 6th March 2023. Educated at Columbia and Oxford Universities, as well as the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, before entering Global Health and Philanthropy, Chris was a professional actor and playwright. Chris’s performance considered the relationship between confinement and creativity, drawing from his own experiences and global arts programmes with the WHO, and how we can harness the creative power of hope.

William Johnston, poet, playwright, kidney transplant recipient and active member of the Renal Arts Group opened the event, reading a selection of poetry based on his first-hand experience of kidney disease and dialysis. A lively Q&A session concluded our event, with inspirational stories from audience members who have harnessed their own creativity through periods of psychological and physical confinement.

Our guest speakers joined members of the Renal Arts Group for a delicious meal at Molly’s Yard to celebrate this fantastic event. We would like to share our grateful thanks to all who attended and helped to make this event such a success!

The videos of William and Chris's performances are available to watch by clicking the buttons below.

Northern Ireland Science Festival 2023
STEAMing Kidneys: Where Art and Science Collide

The Renal Arts Group were delighted to once again partner with the QUB Centre for Public Health, along with local and national renal charities, for this year’s NI Science Festival on Sunday 26th February at the Accidental Theatre.

An increasing number of people are diagnosed with kidney disease, with one billion affected worldwide, impacting both patients and their families. To gain new insights into this condition and improve the quality of life of those affected, researchers today are taking novel and diverse approaches that unite the worlds of art and science!

The event, hosted by Dr Claire Hill, Research Fellow at the QUB Centre for Public Health, featured flash talks from the Centre’s promising researchers, an overview of the ongoing work of RAG by Dr Trisha Forbes and the COSMIC study by Anna Wilson, and charity updates from Patty Gilbert from Northern Ireland Kidney Patients Association, Susan Kee from Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund and Jo-Anne Dobson from Kidney Care UK. RagBone closed the event with a fantastic acoustic set, featuring Mr Ian Walsh, Consultant Surgeon and Senior Lecturer on vocals and lead guitar, Alistair MacKenzie, Social Worker at South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust on bass guitar and Lyn McMullan, Audio-visual Producer on drums.

Thank you to all who joined us for this brilliant event!

Kidney Care UK Gala Dinner
RAG Members attend the Kidney Care UK Gala Dinner

Members of the Renal Arts Group and renal researchers from the School of Nursing and Midwifery, QUB were delighted to attend the Kidney Care UK Gala Dinner at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Belfast to celebrate the kidney community in Northern Ireland. The event was attended by the Kidney Care UK Senior Management Team, NI Ambassadors and Advocacy Officers from across the UK, along with local charities, healthcare staff and people living with kidney disease, for an evening of delicious food and fantastic entertainment. The evening was hosted by Stephen Watson, BBC NI sports presenter and kidney transplant recipient, with performances by RAG members Jean Michelo and RagBone!

We would like to extend a huge thank you to Kidney Care UK for organising this amazing celebration and their continued support for the Renal Arts Group.

Find out more about Kidney Care UK
NI Science Festival
The Future of Kidney Research is STEAM Powered

The Renal Arts Group were delighted to partner with researchers from the QUB Centre for Public Health to take part in an NI Science Festival 2022 event on Sunday 20th February at 2.30pm in the Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast.

Kidney disease affects around 850 million people worldwide with numbers continuing to rise. Holistic approaches which harness cutting edge science and art therapies are key to improving the quality of life of patients and their families. This event brought together clinicians, researchers, academics and artists for a wonderful afternoon of science, art, performance and music!

The event was hosted by Dr Claire Hill, Research Fellow at the QUB Centre for Public Health, with speakers Professor Peter Maxwell, Consultant Nephrologist, Dr Katie Kerr, Research Fellow, Centre for Public Health, QUB, Dr Claire Carswell, Research Fellow, School of Nursing, QUB and Department of Public Health, University of York, and William Johnston, writer and kidney transplant recipient. We were also joined by RagBone, featuring Mr Ian Walsh, Consultant Surgeon and Senior Lecturer, Alistair MacKenzie, Social Worker at South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust and Lyn McMullan, Audiovisual Producer, who closed the event with some new music and old favourites.

A huge thank you to all who joined us, and to our partners at the QUB Centre for Public Health for organising this fantastic event.

William Johnston speaking at RAG ESRC event
ESRC Festival of Social Science 2019
The Art of Health and Wellbeing

In November the group held a successful event at the Sunflower public house, Belfast ‘The Art of Health and Wellbeing’ as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science 2019. The event aimed to explore the intersection of creativity, arts and health and showcased a variety of performances from patients and healthcare professionals, as well as an exhibition of art created by patients during haemodialysis. This artwork was generated via Claire Carswell’s PhD research study, supervised by Dr Helen Noble, Professor Joanne Reid and Mr Ian Walsh which is exploring the feasibility of implementing arts-based interventions in haemodialysis units.

The event was hosted by Dr Helen Noble, Senior Lecturer and Professor Peter Maxwell, Consultant Nephrologist who welcomed kidney transplant patients William Johnston and Shaun Greene to discuss the impact of the arts on their health and wellbeing during their renal healthcare journey. Claire Carswell, presented work from her study, and also performed a monologue from a play focussing on patient mental health. Guest speaker Deborah Duval, Managing Editor of Kidney Matters, Kidney Care UK explained how the charity supports renal arts in Northern Ireland and the event concluded with a lively blues set from RAGBONE, featuring Mr Ian Walsh, Consultant Surgeon and Senior Lecturer, Alistair MacKenzie, Social Worker at South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust and Lyn McMullan, Audiovisual Producer. A truly multi-professional line-up!

Getting Creative With Health - Slugger O'Toole article by Claire Carswell
Mindful Museum Workshop
A series of mindfulness and wellbeing workshops for renal patients

Dr Helen Noble and Lesley Bratty from the Northern Ireland Kidney Patient Association led a Mindfulness and Yoga workshop to reduce stress and improve wellbeing at a Belfast yoga studio on Saturday 23rd November. The workshop was attended by renal patients, carers and practitioners who learnt about mindfulness practice and took part in breathing exercises, yoga and meditation. We received fantastic feedback from participants about the workshop as well as requests to run this event again in future.

On Wednesday 11th December, members of the group and the wider renal community attended the Ulster Museum for a ‘Mindfulness at the Museum’ workshop. The group received a guided gallery tour by Outreach Officer Sharon McKibben, and then took part in an art activity creating collaged mirrors. All the participants really enjoyed the workshop and expressed a strong interest in taking part in future museum events. We also discussed the potential of taking museum outreach into renal units for haemodialysis patients.

The workshops were generously supported by NIKPA

World Kidney Day 2021
Colourful Kidneys

To celebrate World Kidney Day 2021 one of our group members, Amy Parkes, artist and kidney patient, designed 2 kidney templates that could be downloaded and decorated, which we then shared via our social media channels on World Kidney Day on Thursday 11th March.

Please continue to share your creations with us on social media or email them to Anna Wilson.

Colourful Kidneys Gallery