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Hospital Rooms: Using art to battle mental health


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The marrying of mental health and art is explored in the work of a variety of charities across the UK, hoping to create a harmonious environment for patients.

This conversion of clinical settings into communicative and enriching environments is supported by renowned British artists like Anish Kapoor and Julian Opie, who work with these foundations to help imbue the NHS with creativity.

Rachael Champion, 'Telephone Room' at Bluebell Lodge. Photo: Damian Griffiths.

After a competitive application process, this year sees Hospital Rooms working with six mental health units that were chosen for their dedication to creating an artistic environment for their patients. These projects are supported by Arts Council England, amongst other foundations, who collaborate with artists. The fashion brand Seasalt, for example, commissioned a piece by Anna Barriball for one facility, as well as donating a sum of money from the sales of their popular Sailor Socks.

One of the charity’s ongoing projects is Bluebell Lodge, an inpatient rehabilitation unit for men aged 18 to 65 years old who suffer from severe mental illness. Six artists, including Rachael Champion and Shaw himself, were commissioned to create unique environments that encourage social interaction and create calm within patients. The murals seek to remove the barrier between patients and the outside world, decreasing their vulnerability and segregation. Art is utilised as a therapeutic device and creativity is seen as a form of escapism. As well as murals by various artists, Antony Gormley’s ‘Mind Matters’ hangs in an interview room, illustrating the inner workings of a mind suffering from mental illness.

Antony Gormley, 'Mind Matters', hung at Bluebell Lodge. Image: Hospital Rooms.

Hospital Rooms isn’t the only charity working to reinvigorate mental health units. The organisation Painting in Hospitals loans works by famous artists such as Bridget Riley, Andy Warhol and Anish Kapoor to various facilities to inspire better health and wellbeing. Their collection of over 3,800 works are displayed in various health and social care organisations that aid in transforming otherwise detached environments into a welcoming space that encourages a calmer state of mind.

These charities work with artists to better the lives of people suffering from mental illness, illustrating the healing powers of creativity.

Anna Barriball, 'Daylight' at Bluebell Lodge. Image: Hospital Rooms.

To find out more about Hospital Rooms’ upcoming projects, please click here. You can find out more about Painting in Hospitals on their website.

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