15 Artists Collaborate To Make London Children’s Hospital A Brighter Place To Heal
Hospitals are no fun: you’re sick, the food is horrible and everything looks bleak and sterile. But a British art organization by the name of Vital Arts (working for Barts NHS Trust and charitably funded) decided to something about that last part. Over the last few years, their efforts transformed London Royal Children’s Hospital into – dare I say it – a fun place to be in.
The project’s artists used vinyl, ceramics, rugs, wood and other materials to decorate the hospital’s spaces. Vibrant colors and cheerful drawings of animals adorn the walls and an entire ward has been transformed into a make-believe forest. In short, the place looks so good, a child might not want to leave it.
Trauma and gastroenterology (Wing 7D) by Morag Myerscough
“The piece has a huge amount of references that had been embedded in my memory for many years and came out all together at one time. So there are elements of circus, organic, art deco, Asian culture, Victorian architecture and the list goes on so a real mash-up that came out of my head onto paper and then onto the walls”
“The whole aim of the piece was to make a ward that would help to bring some joy to the young patients and parents with colour and some fun that would be warm and welcoming
Haematology (Ward 7F) by Donna Wilson
“One of the most important things for me was to make the hospital not feel like a hospital. I wanted the patients, parents and nurses all to feel relaxed, happy and stimulated by the environment that surrounds them and by using design you can lift the mood and well-being of the people there.”
“I’ve enjoyed seeing and hearing the reactions of not just the children but the parents too who are so pleased that the ward feels happier, colourful and less sterile and intimidating. This makes it so worthwhile and hugely rewarding for me as a designer.”
Paediatric Assessment and Short Stay Unit (Ward 7C (B)) by Chris Haughton
Rather than numbering each room Haughton decided to give each room a different animal character; a lion room, a parrot room and a fish room etc.
In the corridors vinyl is used to create a gathering of life-sized animals including a dinosaur peering down from the ceiling, all looked after by a monkey dressed as a doctor
Respiratory (Ward 7E) by Miller Goodman, 2014
“Wood is a traditional warm medium that soulfully ages softening with play. It is traditional and always evokes childhood memories of play. We hope that the mix of bright vinyl colours and wooden characters encourages and entertains the child as well as wishes them a speedy recovery.”
Elevator Lobbies by Katharine Morling
Ceramicist Katharine Morling spent six-weeks on children’s wards working with patients to create sketchbooks recalling favourite memories and treasured toys. Morling then used these sketchbooks to develop porcelain sculptures for her commission for the new children’s hospital.
Featuring performing rhinos, butterflies and train tracks made from rulers, Collective Memories of the London presents a dream-like version of the everyday world.
Throughout All Wards by Doran
“A seminal moment for me was when a three-year-old girl stopped crying the moment she saw the curtains, pointing excitedly to the hidden cats and rabbits. That’s when I knew my design had worked.”
Paediatric Critical Care (Ward 6c) by Tord Boontje
Alluding to renewal and growth, the work contains animals and elements in energising colours for children to find and discover. The larger drawings are very finely detailed and invite you to discover new elements day after day.
Activity Space (7th Floor) by Cottrell and Vermeulen and Morag Myerscough
“We wanted to create a place that was an escape for the young patients, an engaging place that was fun, playful & colourful, but at the same time gave the opportunity for the whole family to relax together.”