10 Things I Hate About Art in Healthcare

May 27, 2016

 
1. Bad Art

Sometimes the artworks we come across in healthcare settings are not very good. Hospitals can be the resting place of well-intentioned, but not so well executed artworks. We don’t want second rate healthcare so why would we want second rate artworks?
 
2. Bland Art

A close relation to bad art, bland art can often be found in healthcare settings. Buying or commissioning artworks for healthcare settings is a delicate task, which should only be undertaken by a professional with considerable experience. Art is subjective, so you’ll never please all of the people all of the time, but this should not lead to bland, nondescript art features in healthcare settings. If it’s that bland why bother?
 
3. Dirty Art

We expect hospitals to be as clean as possible, artworks are no exception. If artworks are to be included in healthcare environments they must be maintained to the same standard as all other fixtures and fittings. Dirty artworks are a risk to health and to the quality of healthcare provided.
 
4. Broken Art

If an artwork is broken, what else isn’t working? Is the medical equipment being looked after to the same standards?
 
5. Portraits

Portraits seem to be an inescapable element to art in healthcare, however most portraits are not relevant to the vast majority of the audience who will have to look at them.
 
6. Royal Portraits

A subject that divides opinion and can be controversial. I’ve even seen Royal portraits placed just before the entrance to an aboriginal health service, an alarming example of poor judgement and cultural insensitivity.
 
7. Architect Designed Artworks

You wouldn’t employ an electrician to install your plumbing. We wouldn’t allow an artist to try their hand at being a surgeon, so why would anyone other than an experienced artist take on the role of creating a major artwork? The same goes for participatory projects and arts program management, leave it to trained, experienced professionals.
 
8. Donated Artworks

Always well intentioned, rarely suitable and will almost certainly lead to a range ‘challenges’ further down the track. All hospitals should have an artwork donations policy which covers all aspects relating to the proposed donation of artworks.
 
9. Badly Hung Artworks

My favourite is placing the artwork above the head of the bed… where the patient can’t actually see it. Artworks are best handled and installed by professionals rather than the maintenance team.
 
10. Mass Produced Artworks

Possibly the most frequently occurring of my list, often from a popular global home furnishings store, always bland and usually cheap and nasty looking…
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