Organ donation memorial artworks for Bangor and Wrexham hospitals in Wales

“Many people in North Wales have received organs that have saved their life and many individuals have chosen to donate organs to help someone else to live. These artworks are dedicated to those selfless people in the acknowledgment of their ‘Gift of Life’. The artworks are also intended to gently inspire others to consider organ donation as a vital means of saving lives. These two linked artwork projects evolved and developed together.” Clinical leads for Organ Donation across the Health Board, Dr Sam Sandow, Dr Andrew Evans and Dr Alison Ingham, Consultant Intensivists.

Harri Owen-Jones, Chair, North Wales Organ and Tissue Donation Committee said: “With the advice and aid of our artists, Karen and Tony van de Bospoort of Hospital Art Studio, the committee concluded after several months of consideration and discussion, that the art should reflect the character of the area of each hospital.”

The artwork at Ysbyty Gwynedd Hospital in Bangor includes stylised waves, sea birds and the vitality of shoaling fish act as an uplifting metaphor – the wonder of nature and the gift of life. This theme was chosen to reflect Bangor's coastal location and close proximity to lakes and mountains.

Created for a large stairwell this artwork is fully experienced by viewing through 360 degrees. On entering the stairwell at ground level the artwork on the walls includes a wave of bilingual emotive messages concerning organ donation that echo the waves of the sea and shoaling fish depicted below. On another wall, fish leap and morph into a heart shape of sea birds surrounding the core message, 'Rhodd o Fywyd – Gift of Life'. Suspended above the staircase is an impressive stainless steel and glass sculpture – a vortex of spiralling fish.

Wrexham is inland and surrounded by marshes and rolling gentle hills and parklands, home to dozens of species of multi-coloured butterflies. The butterfly’s cycle of life climaxes with the emergence of beauty, the regeneration of what was…into what can be - new life.

The artwork at Wrexham Maelor Hospital mirrors the exhibit in Bangor to carry the message ‘Rhodd o Fywyd – Gift of Life’ with print and glass butterflies fluttering around the glass ceilinged atrium of the main entrance. In addition a vertical column of hand made glass butterflies suspended from the midpoint reflects coloured patterns onto the floor to draw the eye aloft.

The artworks were designed and created by Karen and Tony van de Bospoort of Hospital Art Studio with fused glass and steel sculptures also designed in collaboration by them with Jo Downs, and made in Jo’s Cornwall based Glass Studio.

Karen and Tony van de Bospoort of Hospital Art Studio said: “Initial designs for the printed butterflies were amended after working in close collaboration with Jo so that all are consistently styled. We are delighted how fused glass works so beautifully with a fragility and transparency that imitates real butterflies but with a scale that communicates its ability to sustain existence through ongoing lifecycles and with such a visual impact.”

RHYS MEIRION, International Opera star, brother of organ donor Elen Meirion, who helped establish Elen’s Fund after her tragic death in 2012, said: "The importance of the wonderful organ donation art exhibition is twofold. Firstly it creates a space for those who have experienced organ donation on both sides of the process, to have place for solace and a moment's thought while having a wonderful feeling that donating is so much appreciated.

Secondly it creates a discussion, it raises awareness. People will ask what it is and what it's for, and the subject of organ donation is raised easily and naturally. They are evocative and attractive pieces of large scale art and enhance the hospital environment."

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