Royal Berkshire Hospital organ donation artwork symbolises the ‘gift of life’

Butterflies are designed to inspire people to register as organ donors thank those who have donated

A 'Gift of Life' installation featuring hundreds of butterflies fills an entire wall of the reception area in the main entrance to the Royal Berkshire Hospital.

Commissioned as a memorial, the artwork is designed to inspire people to register as organ donors, and also act as a thank-you to those who have donated an organ to provide the gift of life to another person.

Hospital Art Studio was commissioned by the hospital's organ and tissue donation committee, which wanted a lasting memorial and a place for relatives to visit.

The initial idea was to use a heart shape to infer life, but the team wanted to use something else to pick out this heart shape. After researching the countryside around the hospital, it was clear that the area is blessed with one of the best habitats for summer butterfly spotting, especially on the chalk grasslands of the Berkshire Downs.

The team chose five butterflies indigenous to the area and chosen specifically so that their colours work together harmoniously and complement the hospital’s surroundings.

Tony van de Bospoort of Hospital Art Studio said: “We set out to create an exciting, vibrant artwork, giving the impression that the butterflies are flying off the wall, and this has been achieved through close consultation with our print and installation contractors to meet the stringent safety standards required.

“We decided the smaller butterflies that pick out the heart shape would be applied directly to the wall, the larger butterflies to be fixed to the wall with spacers, seeming like they are fluttering into the room. The title, ‘the Gift of Life’ is also fitted with spacers to give extra emphasis to the message.

"We wanted to create a fitting tribute to the people who quite literally have given the gift of life to others – and a place where their families will know they are being remembered. Everyone who sees the artwork says it has fulfilled all of our aspirations – and more too."

Dr Chris Danbury, an intensive care consultant at the hospital, added: “It provokes thought about organ donation, but is also a sign of being reborn.

“The enormity of the piece really helps to get the message across. Organ donation has transformed my life beyond recognition. It’s the greatest gift that you can give."

And Richard Burbedge, a double lung transplant patient, said: “Spanning a wall, the eye-catching butterflies come alive with a striking 3D effect, which also promotes a powerful message to the people who have given ‘the Gift of Life’ and will hopefully inspire others to become donors.”

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