In response to the coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on frontline hospital staff, Barts Health NHS Trust is upgrading existing areas and creating new spaces in which clinical staff can find rest and respite.
And, aligning with these developments, #100NHSRooms, a charitably-funded initiative, has been launched bringing new artworks to 100 rooms across the trust, including St Bartholomew’s, Royal London Hospital, Whipps Cross, Mile End, and Newham hospitals.
Vital Arts, the arts and health service for the trust, has collaborated with artist, Shezad Dawood, and Modern Forms to further its ongoing mission to support the wellbeing of both patients and hospital employees through the arts.
The project responds to the current pandemic, but the impact of the artworks will extend beyond it, recognising the adverse effects of intense pressure on staff and promoting the importance of an enhanced environment for reflection and calm.
Art allows our minds to travel to different places, which is particularly important during stressful times
Dr Rory McDermott, a consultant respiratory physician at Newham University Hospital, said: “#100NHSRooms has much less to do with paintings in a staff room and much more to do with what remains when the world is rapidly changing around you.
“The project will afford frontline staff a few moments to take stock, absorb the art, and ponder the questions that it raises before returning to patient care – like a child hiding in a wardrobe getting ready to come out again.
Donating artists to date include Mania Akbari and Douglas White; Charles Avery; Shiraz Bayjoo; Rana Begum; Victor Burgin; Matthew Burrows; Oliver Chanarin; Jake and Dinos Chapman; Petra Cortright; Shezad Dawood; Jeremy Deller and Fraser Muggeridge; Eloise Fornieles; Gaia Fugazza; Margarita Gluzberg; Anne Hardy; Diango Hernández; Henry Hudson; Harminder Singh Judge; Peter Liversidge; Lakwena Maciver; Marta Marcé; Haroon Mirza; Annie Morris; Yelena Popova; Shaan Syed; Conrad Shawcross; Yinka Shonibare; The Grantchester Pottery; Barbara Walker; Mark Wallinger; and Catherine Yass.
Working together, Vital Arts, Shezad Dawood and Modern Forms appealed to a sense of solidarity among artists in gathering these donations.
And a large proportion of participants live within the east London area that the hospitals serve, which has long been a hub of the city’s art scene.
Catsou Roberts, director of Vital Arts, said: “It has been a rich and fruitful collaboration with Modern Forms and Shezad Dawood, who has been a driving force behind the project.
The project will afford frontline staff a few moments to take stock, absorb the art, and ponder the questions that it raises before returning to patient care – like a child hiding in a wardrobe getting ready to come out again
“Vital Arts is deeply grateful to all participating artists for giving multiple works - many made especially for the project.
Henry Hudson; iPad Dreams 2, 2020; suite of ten digital prints on Hahnemuhle Smooth Photo Rag 308gsm
“And we are indebted to Simon Beaugie for kindly donating frames and framing services, and to Pelham Communications for providing PR support pro bono.
“We are keen to bring enriching artwork directly to our clinical colleagues - in those areas, and during this moment - when they might need it most.
“I believe these artworks will offer comfort and inspiration and convey the respect we hold for frontline staff during this difficult time.”
Dr Ian Basnett, public health director at the trust, added: “Art allows our minds to travel to different places, which is particularly important during stressful times.
“Our staff have been fantastic during this pandemic and they will appreciate that this charitable initiative has been able to secure artwork for so many staff rooms where they will find rest and respite.”
Horizonte Amor 5, Pigment print on paper, ©Diango Hernandez