Life Blood

Artist Name(s) Cathy Henderson
Artwork title Life Blood

Life Blood was initiated by the artist Cathy Henderson in the context of St. James' Hospital, Dublin.

Following her own experience of long periods spent as a patient recovering from a road accident, the artist wished to produce a series of portraits representing the non-medical staff in a hospital. The idea emerged from her observation of the institutional portraits along a corridor in Saint Vincent's Hospital where all the sitters were men including senior consultants, board members, distinguished doctors or benefactors (the sole exception being Mother Mary Aikenhead, the founder of the Hospital). The artist decided to approach the St James' directly with the proposal.

Henderson, whose Master's degree was awarded for a study of workers in the markets area of Dublin, is interested in all workers irrespective of the colour of their collars or the amount of authority they hold. As she puts it herself:

"I am interested in individuality and how we all function in the machine."

Her mode of representation is twofold and democratic with real input from both sitter and artist so that the painted portraits, largely directed by her, are accompanied by a series of recorded interviews with each sitter, in which they present themselves in their own words, with their own voices.


Cathy Henderson lives and works in North Wicklow. She graduated with an MA from the National College of Art and Design, Dublin in 1993. Her work is included in an increasing number of private and public collections in Ireland, the UK, the US and Canada and she has worked to commission for many private and corporate clients including the ESB, Guinness, Bank Of Ireland and the BBC.

Commission Type The Arts Council
Commissioner Name St James' Hospital
Commissioning process Direct - artist led
Project commission dates March 1, 2009 - May 1, 2009
Public Presentation dates October 14, 2009 - October 21, 2009
Artform Visual Arts
Art Practice Arts and health
Funded By Other
Budget Range 0 - 10000 euro
Project commission start date 01/03/2009
Project commission end date 01/05/2009
Location St. James' Hospital, Dublin
County Dublin
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Content contributor(s) Cathy Henderson
Relationship to project Artist



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