Opening Hours

Living Loss: The Experience of Illness in Art

curated by Fiona Kearney
in association with the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, UCC

Lower and Upper Galleries, 23 November 2012 - 10 March 2013

Artists: Cecily Brennan, Martin Creed, Terry Dennett, Damien Hirst, Laura Potter, Mary Rose O'Neill, The Project Twins, Paul Seawright, Jo Spence, Thomas Struth, and supporting material
from the Wellcome Collection.


Great achievements in modern medicine have enhanced our knowledge and treatment of many diseases, but understanding what it feels like to be sick requires more than technological advances and medical science. The facts of disease are objective and readily available, whereas illness is subjective, less accessible, difficult to teach, and sadly, often neglected.

Although the developed world has been relieved of many scourges, chronic illness is widespread and increasing in prevalence. Few are spared the experience of illness or can avoid being touched by it, either personally or because of the misfortune of a loved one. This exhibition presents different perspectives on the experience of illness, from the candid self-portraits of Jo Spence during her cancer treatment to the tender and compassionate portraits of patients by Cecily Brennan, through to the tongue-in-cheek pharmaceuticals invented by Damien Hirst.

Fiona Kearney will lead a free curatorial tour of the exhibition at 1pm on Friday 22 February.

An illustrated exhibition guide accompanies the exhibition and is available from the gallery shop or by emailing

You can download a PDF of the exhibition wall texts here.

For press images and further information, please contact

International Symposium: The Experience of Illness - Learning from the Arts
An international symposium The Experience of Illness: Learning from the Arts developed with colleagues in the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre presented an overview of illness as expressed not only in the visual arts but also in fiction, poetry,history, narrative, dialogue and cinema.