Pictured (left to right) are Innocent Iroaganachi, Nicholas Murwisi, Aung Marma and Godsway Kuffour receiving framed artworks from the artists on behalf of the men in Clare Lodge. Behind them is Rena Casey Lewis, representing Inis Artists, and Ana Colomer who painted several pieces and framed the pictures. Behind them are Sarah Ferrigan and Martin Vernon from Ennis Welcomes Everyone and Sean Farrelly. Photograph by Art O’Ruairc.

32 residents of Clare Lodge receive unique and uplifting pieces

Thirty-two residents of a Direct Provision centre in Ennis have received an unusual gift – unique artworks created for them by local artists. Several artists gathered at Harmony Row bridge in the town last week to present their artwork to the asylum seekers living at the Clare Lodge.

It was an idea by the Ennis Welcomes Everyone group to invite County Clare artists to produce a piece of art to be framed and given as a gift to each of the men living in Direct Provision.

The project was a huge success as 13 artists responded to the request for a “colourful and uplifting piece”. Each of the 32 men received a beautiful piece of artwork.

One of the asylum seekers, Godsway Kuffour, said: “I can tell from the artwork I received that the artists and all others who contributed had deep thoughts and affection about us. I lack words to appreciate them. I and many of my friends in the Clare Lodge are overwhelmed with the gifts of love and care that are being extended to us by individuals and organisations in Clare, especially the Ennis community.”

Another of the men, Nicholas Murwisi, said: “The portraits are beautiful and eye catching. I love mine and appreciate the thoughtfulness of the artists and the community, which is a gift on its own to us. I will always treasure it. Thank you very much.”

Alan Schoosmith of Inis Artists group, whose members contributed many of the pieces of art, said “We were delighted to support this worthy local cause”.

The artists involved were: Inge Bergmann, Rena Casey Lewis, Collette Dinan, Geraldine O’Leary, Tomás O’Maoldomhnaigh, Dominic McNamara, Eileen Quinn and Alan Schoosmith (all members of Inis Artists); Giulia Canevari, Ana Colomer, Ciara Malone, Mary Fealy McMahon and Katie Theasby.

Ennis Welcomes Everyone was set up in December 2019 to welcome and support the men who came to live in Direct Provision in Ennis in that month.

Martin Vernon of Ennis Welcomes Everyone said: “People living in Direct Provision are often isolated enough, and the Covid-19 virus lockdown has made things even harder for them. We just wanted to let them know that lots of people in County Clare are thinking of them and wishing them well. We are very pleased with the generous gesture of support from the local artists, and we hope that the men enjoy their pictures.