'Tools of the trade' art exhibition at Mercy


Dunedin poet Ruth Arnison has curated an art exhibition inspired by the work carried out at Mercy Hospital. 'Tools of the trade' is on display at Mercy Hospital's reception area until 31 March 2021 and all pieces are for sale. 

The project began midway through 2020, with Mercy staff asked to contribute words to describe the tools they use in their work. The submissions were offered to poets, who were invited to compose haiku poems guided by the words. Artists then selected one of the 11 poems to inspire an artwork.

Fifteen artists have submitted 20 works in a variety of media from paintings, textiles, sculpture and even a handbound book. A slideshow of the works is available to view here.

Mercy's CEO Richard Whitney says he is delighted to support the 'Tools of the trade' exhibit. 

'Since 2019 Ruth has coordinated Mercy's artist wall, where the works of a local artist are profiled. Mercy welcomes many patients and visitors every day, so featuring a variety of art provides a welcome distraction for our patients and also raises the profile of local artists," Richard says.  

Ruth's exhibition was inspired by a pocket sized anthology of poems called 'Tools of the trade', which was compiled by doctors and has been gifted to every graduate medical student in Scotland since 2014. 

'I love that Mercy staff started this whole project, by contributing their words, then those words have gone out into the world to poets and artists, and now come full circle with the exhibition back at Mercy,' says Ruth.  

Ruth is the Dunedin arts advocate behind Poetry in Waiting Rooms (a national programme which distributes poetry cards in medical waiting rooms, hospices, rest homes and prisons), Lilliput Libraries (large letterboxes located around the city where people can collect and drop off books) and Poems on Steps (poetry installations in public places around Dunedin). 'Tools of the trade' is Ruth's sixth PoARTry exhibition and the second to be held at Mercy Hospital. 

In 2018 Ruth received a Queen's Service Medal for services to poetry and literature. Ruth's next project involves a photographer and two poets and will feature an exhibition at the Dunedin Botanic Garden information centre. 

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