Colin McGookin

South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust
Lagan Valley Hospital, Downshire Hospital, Finneston House, Struell Lodge, Slieve Grane, Orchard Grove, Down Residential Group, Appletree Hosue, The Junction

2010 Colin was elected an Academician by the Royal Ulster Academy

During 2008-2009 South Eastern Trust Artist in Residence Colin McGookin has been very busy on several projects with clients in the Downpatrick and Lisburn areas.

Their big project, The Lagan Valley Hospital Mural was finally completed and the images below illustrate some of the suite of 11 panels completed during workshop sessions in 2008 at the Lagan Valley Hospital in Lisburn by patients and staff under the tuition of Colin. The imagery in the paintings reflect the ethos of the hospital as it cares for people 24 hours a day each day of the year. The vistas include daytime and night time scenes and reflect the urban and suburban catchment area of Lisburn city, including some landmarks like the Union Bridge. Some images represent the interests of the various budding artists including flying away on holiday, attendance at a football match between Chelsea and Manchester United, a flight in a hot air balloon, love of Japanese animation and memories of a family background in the Isle of Man.

Most of the work was done by complete novices and some passages were painted as purely abstract markmaking. The various departments of the hospital such as Acute services, Casualty, Psychiatry and Maternity are referred to as are the various clients and occupants, including patients, therapists, nurses, doctors and visitors. The panels are currently being installed in the Lagan Valley Hospital in both the main building and in the Psychiatry department and are drawing favorable comments from all who see them. A follow on project of a short animation using the murals as backdrops was started. Dozens of 3 dimensional models of characters were built and a storyboard created however this is still in the development stage.

Another very popular project was the Digital photography classes carried out at the Lagan Valley and Downshire hospitals. In this project Colin introduced the clients to digital cameras, teaching them how they work and how they can download the pictures for cropping and image manipulation in programs like photoshop. Each week Colin would lead groups of up to 12 patients and staff from the various units of both hospitals to different locations to learn how to compose and take pictures. They utilized macro mode for close-up pictures of flowers and insects and also landscape mode for vistas of the countryside and over a period of several months built up a unique library of thousands of pictures recording the changing seasons throughout the Down Lisburn area. A special photographic essay on the Downshire hospital included video recordings of patient reminisces and they also recorded clients playing music to accompany a DVD of the images. Some images were featured on the BBC website and a series of calendars were designed incorporating favourite selections from each participating unit. A series of exhibitions of selected photographic prints is planned.

This year Colin has also carried out 2 video projects for the Trust. He made a documentary of the Down “Safe and Well” Older Peoples’ project and a documentary of Doctor Erskine’s guided tour of the Downe Hospital and its equipment archive.

All of Colin’s project work with Arts Care can be found on his website at