Recently I was asked to create a piece of art that would be turned into a floor-to-ceiling artwork for Gloucestershire Royal Hospitals mental health in crisis room situated in their A&E department.
The dedicated room within the A&E department is where people suffering from a mental health crisis can wait in safety for the help they need. However, the room was stark and unwelcoming and had been likened to a prison cell.
Therefore, as part of a focus on improving patient experience, I was tasked with creating a painting that would be transformed into a floor-to-ceiling wall art that would help create a soothing, therapeutic and calming space.
The project was featured on BBC Radio Gloucestershire who created a video showing the end result and reactions to the space, which you can find further on down this page.
Creative consultation sessions
Part of the brief asked me to work with staff and experts by experience (who work with the hospital to share their knowledge of how it feels to be a patient) to develop the artwork. I ran a number of creative consultations which I talk about in depth here in a previous blog.
The main outcome from these sessions were mood boards of colours, patterns and shapes that they found soothing. Conversations developed from these and gave me a steer as to what I should be creating. These sessions were invaluable in making the piece unique and special to the hospital.
Creating the wall art
Taking these mood boards and other elements from the session I began to create the artwork. During one conversation we spoke about how the space should feel like a pause, it should be somewhere to not worry about what had happened or what was to come but a safe moment of calm. Therefore I called the piece "A moment to pause".
I painted the work using ink and fluid paint, painting layers which built up to create delicate overlapping areas. The layers build to provide focal points and undulating hills of colour, while lighter softer paint suggests space and moments of calm.
Work in progress video
It was important to me that as the work would be placed within a room without any windows, that the painting, although abstract suggests looking outside towards a viewpoint or horizon to give an impression of space.
The original painting was then scanned in a high resolution by Karmaan scanning. The difficulty with enlarging an artwork is there is a risk of pixilation if you don't pick the correct scanning method. I picked karmanan scanning as I knew they had the equipment available to achieve this.
Usually I would arrange the printing and installation but as the hospital has an on the ground arts team they co ordinated the printing and installation. They picked Blue Sky Signs who printed the wall art onto a special vinyl suitable for healthcare environments.
The completed work
The completed wall art made such a difference to the room, it made the room feel less clinical, brighter and calmer.
One patient by experience said
"It's amazing its such a breath of fresh air to come in here now. The room is so much more welcoming. I feel like if you're waiting in here for any length of time now, you've got something that you can interact with."
whilst another said
"I think what this room will show if nothing else is that people care, and people have put time and effort into making this room feel a more positive, calming space and I think if people who come here and present with mental health problems feel that and know that people care. I think that can be a huge step on their journey to recovery."
A celebratory event was held with members of the hospital and local community. BBC Radio Gloucestershire came along and captured peoples responses to the project.
Dr. Faye Noble, Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said
There is sadly a significant number of people who present in A&E who are suffering from their mental health and associated physical health conditions. After the past couple of years, it feels more important than ever to be able to provide a safe and comfortable space where people can get the help that they need. This new artwork created in conjunction with experts by experience and our colleagues will really benefit our patients when they need it the most.
The project was coordinated by the Anoushka Duroe-Richards, Hospital Arts Coordinator and funded by Cheltenham and Gloucester Hospitals Charity. Richard Smith, Head of Fundraising, Cheltenham and Gloucester Hospitals Charity, said
“As a charity, we’re here to help our local hospitals do even more, whether through funding technology such as new CT Scanners, giving support to NHS staff, or through projects like this which enhance the hospital environment.
Creating a soothing space for patients, which will help them to feel calm and relaxed, really can make such a difference to their experience. Importantly it also supports staff in their work, so they are able to work as effectively as possible to give care to local people in emergency situations.
It’s only thanks to donations, sponsorship and gifts in wills that we’re able to fund amazing projects like these, and we’re very grateful to everyone who has helped to make this possible.”
I was approached for this project and asked to submit a response to an artist brief, shortlisted and then attended a panel interview. If you would like to know how I could work with you on similar projects please use the contact form on the website or email firstname.lastname@example.org