Art makes a mark at The Walton Centre’s Sid Watkins Building

Hard-hitting artwork provides distraction and enhances the environment at specialist neurological trust

Patient, Margaret Blair, in front of one of the works of art

A series of imaginative artworks in a new building at The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust is proving a big hit with staff and patients.

The pieces include a moving sculpture hanging in the atrium; a series of life-sized wildlife scenes; and abstract murals illustrating different neurological conditions.

All the works were chosen based on input from staff and patients about their experiences at the specialist neurosciences trust.

It felt like a big responsibility to come up with the right thing, although very different from the usual sense of responsibility in a doctor’s working life

In the Complex Rehabilitation Unit, a series of striking wildlife scenes by photographer, Ben Hall, conveys the importance of movement, balance and the senses.

Patient, Margaret Blair, said: “I think the artworks throughout the building are absolutely wonderful. I take all my visitors round to look at them. My favourites are the one of the owl in flight - he looks so cross - and the deer in the morning sunrise.”

Consultant neurologist, Dr Rhys Davies, contributed to the creation of two murals in the Medical Education Centre by artists Andrea Pazos and Vane Julian.

He said: “I was involved in writing texts and liaising with colleagues to provide content about different specialist areas of clinical neurosciences. It felt like a big responsibility to come up with the right thing, although very different from the usual sense of responsibility in a doctor’s working life! I hope that we have done it justice.”

In one illustration, the mural includes a quote from Tweedledum in Alice through the Looking Glass, which reads: ‘“I’m very brave generally,” he went on in a low voice, “only today I happen to have a headache.”’

Artist, Rob Vale, produced pictures of orbiting cogs converging over a series of images for the Pain Management Programme (PMP).

“I talked to staff and patients about what happens in that area and came up with ideas based on the different elements of life intersecting and balancing together,” said Rob of Lime Studios, which co-ordinated the commissions.

The PMP’s occupational therapist, John Tetlow; and specialist clinical psychologist, Dr Christian Ainsley, worked with Vale to develop the concept.

Tetlow said: “We were involved from the outset and at every stage of the process. Rob also attended one of our patient sessions to get a full understanding of our work.”

The Sid Watkins Building, designed by John Cooper Architecture, is now fully occupied, with departments including the 30-bed Complex Rehabilitation Unit; Pain Management Programme; Home from Home relatives’ accommodation; neuropsychology unit; training and development facilities; a second outpatients department; Mersey Care’s Brain Injuries Unit and various corporate departments.

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