10 Things I LOVE About Arts in Healthcare

June 21, 2016

I recently wrote about ten things I hate about art in healthcare and so I thought I should follow up with ten things I LOVE about arts in healthcare and the amazing array of opportunities the arts can provide…


1. Great Art


Well considered art commissioning in healthcare brings us a unique opportunity to introduce great artists and artworks to a huge audience. An audience which might not otherwise experience those artists and artworks.


One of my all-time favourite examples is the Cornelia Parker installation at the Barts Health Breast Care Centre, London, a stunning example of an astounding artwork by one of Britain’s foremost artists 


2. Consultation with stakeholders and service users


Great artworks are better appreciated by healthcare communities when they have been commissioned in consultation with the very people who will look at, and experience them every day. Consultation with staff and service users is vital to ensuring that commissioned artworks are relevant and appropriate to their surroundings and audiences.


Bright colourful wall vinyls, GO Create! at Great Ormond Street, London


3. Site specific commissioning


Considering how very unique healthcare environments are, integrating artworks into these surroundings is a very delicate task. The most successful artworks in healthcare, are works which have been designed specifically for the location with careful consideration given to how and what the space will be used for.


4. Create Culturally welcoming surroundings


Illness knows no boundaries, no colour, no religion, no one is exempt and so healthcare settings are places where people of all ages, races and creeds will be brought together. Creative commissions and participatory projects can be used to celebrate this rich cultural diversity, bringing people together, breaking down barriers and create engaging, welcoming environments for all.


5. Promoting local artists and creative communities


Artwork commissioning and programming can provide a stage for local artists, art organisations and celebrate our creative communities.


6. Partnerships


Participatory projects can provide wonderful opportunities to create partnerships with a range of organisations, bringing the outside in and making healthcare settings feel less disconnected from the rest of the world.


7. Artists and architects


Artists working collaboratively with architects. When this is done well it can deliver stunning outcomes, with resultant artworks truly embedded into the fabric of the building. Artist-architect collaborations work best when the artist/s are introduced at the earliest stage possible.


8. Potential for interaction


More and more art and design features are created with a variety of interactive elements. Interactive features actively engage audiences with art and design features, creating a far deeper experience beyond simply looking at or walking past an artwork.


9. Positive distraction


Healthcare environments can be scary places where we experience some of the most extreme incidents of our lifetimes, from birth to death with all the health episodes which lie between the two. Ill health can be very traumatic for the patient, the patient’s family and friends but also for all the people who work in healthcare who witness the trauma of other’s, throughout their working day. The power of positive distraction in such circumstances must never be underestimated.


10. The WOW factor


Art and design features in healthcare can really bring the WOW factor and when it does it’s a magical moment. These moments can be the reaction to an artwork, or a moment of joy from participating or experiencing a creative project or performance. I’ve been lucky enough to see many examples of these WOW factor moments and they are truly magical.


An air intake atrium was transformed by a gigantic inflatable, designed to move with the passing air flow and brighten the views from seven floors of the Octav Botnar Wing, Great Ormond Street

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