Hospitals are a work of art

Art is helping to enhance healthcare environments, with evidence showing a direct impact on the patient and staff experience

A £5m arts programme is at the heart of the interior design strategy for the new £150m Edinburgh hospital development

Art continues to have a huge impact on the way healthcare environments are delivered and on the experiences of the patients, staff and visitors who use them.

Despite increasing pressure on design and construction budgets; investment continues in both refurbishment and new-build projects.

Laura Waters, programme manager for Air Arts, the arts charity at the Royal Derby Hospital, said: “It is a very-exciting time for arts and health.

“Capital is scarce, but we are finding funding through sponsorship and charitable organisations that enables us to continue.”

She explained that art was a particularly-good way to relieve boredom and anxiety among patients and to take some of the pressure off overworked staff.

“When we spoke to patients they told us they were really bored and when they are bored they get anxious and depressed.

“We use art as a catalyst to take them away from that.

“And it helps to reduce stress among staff, with research showing it makes absence rates go down.”

A Kaleidoscope of Butterflies is the title of a thought-provoking new installation at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, developed to try and raise awareness of organ donation

Big business

A £5m arts programme is at the heart of the interior design strategy for the new £150m Edinburgh hospital development, which will open later this year.

More than 20 projects and 30 different artists are involved, working with patients of all ages to create a unique art and therapeutic design programme in what is the largest capital commissioning programme for art in a new hospital in the UK.

The work is spread across the entire site, which will be home to services from the current Royal Hospital for Sick Children; Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the Western General; and the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

The programme is being funded through a £3.1m grant from the Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity and £2m from the Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation and is being curated and produced by art and design consultant, Ginkgo.

Projects director, Tom Littlewood, said: “There is extensive research which demonstrates that art and therapeutic design can help reduce stress and promote patient recovery.”

Willis Newson has commissioned weaver and colour consultant, Ptolemy Mann, to create artwork for Bristol Royal Infirmary’s new sanctuary space

The gift of life

Bristol Royal Infirmary has also announced a major investment, commissioning arts and health consultants, Willis Newson, and weaver and colour consultant, Ptolemy Mann, to create artwork for its new sanctuary space.

And a Kaleidoscope of Butterflies is the title of a thought-provoking new installation at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, developed by Hospital Art Studio.

The work shows another side to artwork, in that it is being used to recognise those who have donated their organs and to encourage more people to do so.

The sculpture features 100 butterflies suspended from varying lengths of fine steel cable to form a spiral that guides the viewer's eye to the message, 'the Gift of Life'.

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