Harnessing the healing power of art to support wellbeing

From: Arts Council England
Published: Mon Feb 20 2023

Last week, our Chair, Sir Nicholas Serota and Relationship Manager Richard Ings visited Springfield University Hospital in Tooting to see the work of Hospital Rooms.

Hospital Rooms is an arts and mental health charity that believes in the power of art to bring joy, create hope, support healing and offer dignity to people in their most vulnerable moments. It's entering our National Portfolio of funded organisations for the first time in the 2023-26 funding period.

In collaboration with patients and staff across South West London and St George's Mental Health NHS Trust, Hospital Rooms led an innovative programme to co-design vibrant and uplifting artworks that have helped to shape a new creative landscape for mental healthcare in South West London.

As part of the development of two new mental health facilities, the charity was commissioned to produce 20 bespoke artworks to transform how the facilities are experienced by patients, service users and staff.

Hospital Rooms enlisted an internationally acclaimed and diverse roster of artists, many of whom put vulnerable people at the centre of their work and specialise in participatory practice. Through a series of 159 workshops, the artists worked directly with patients and staff to come up with the final artworks.

Liam, one of the service users, said:

Joining the Hospital Rooms project has been lifechanging for me. The opportunities I've had to meet new people, learn new skills and spend time being creative has had enormous positive effects on my mental wellbeing and recovery. Without Hospital Rooms I don't think I would have recovered and got back to normal life as quickly as I did.

Installation of the artworks at Springfield University Hospital will be finished later this month, and Nick and Richard loved seeing their progression.

Niamh White and Tim A Shaw, co-founders of Hospital Rooms, said:

Our first ever Hospital Rooms project took place at the Trust's Phoenix Unit. Six years later, we are delighted that our most ambitious project to date is a collaboration with everyone at the Trust.

After 159 artist-led creative workshops that took place at the hospital with service users and staff, we are now well underway installing 20 extraordinary, co-created artworks throughout the new Trinity and Shaftesbury buildings. From murals to video installations, wall sculptures to opera, there are many firsts for us, and we are proud to be part of this new vision for a mental health hospital. We have loved working so closely with everyone at Springfield Hospital over the last 18 months.

Sharon Spain, Executive Director of Nursing & Quality, South West London and St George's Mental Health NHS Trust, said:

Research has long demonstrated the positive connection between art and mental health - but this project is about so much more than putting art on walls to make people feel good. To create healing environments which genuinely support recovery, we needed to go beyond delivering modern buildings.

What makes this project so special and unique is that our patients and service users are at the heart of it. Co-production has been key throughout the process, with over 120 workshops held with patients to ensure that the final artworks are genuinely informed by what they want to see.

Find out more about Hospital Rooms by following them on social media and visiting their website.

Company: Arts Council England

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