Did You Know About The Art Collection In A Hospital?

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 26 months ago
Did You Know About The Art Collection In A Hospital?
The bright colours of Morag Myerscough's murals are perfect for the children's ward. Photo Gareth Gardner

Think hospital, and we automatically think of clinical white walls and a place we'd like to avoid. This is why it can be the perfect setting for some contemporary art to give a hospital a fresh look.

The role of Vital Arts is to populate the hospitals of Barts Health NHS Trust with contemporary art. We took a tour of one of their largest hospitals, Royal London, to discover all the art that's on display across this massive building.

Each work is carefully tailored to its location. For example, the children's entrance and ward is decorated with brightly coloured walls, mosaics and lights by Morag Myerscough.

And to reflect the ethnic diversity of the local area, Bob and Roberta Smith has painted the national animals of the nationalities that have passed through the hospital.

Other highlights include Roger Hiorns clocks covered in copper sulphate crystals and Katharine Morling's ceramic undersea diorama.

The hospital plays host to temporary exhibitions as well. Currently it's the work of Ruth Ewan who recently showed work at the Camden Arts Centre.

Royal London isn't like a traditional gallery so the work has to have a broad appeal, and it's also in the firing line. We learned of one work being damaged by a fight that spilled into the hospital from outside, and we saw a cheeky addition as one visitor had placed a mini woollen hat on to a bird within a sculpture.

To allay any concerns about cost, all of the money for commissioning and purchasing these works is raised charitably, and is not funded by the NHS.

Much of the work is in publicly accessible areas, but the hospital itself can be hard to navigate. Vital Arts is working to put a map together but in the meantime we recommend getting in touch with Vital Arts to arrange a tour. It's a vast collection with some fantastic works.

Roger Hiorns famously flooded an entire flat with copper sulphate. A similar process has been carried out on these clocks. Photo Jess Bonham
Bob and Roberta Smith has painted the national animals of the different nationalities of hospital patients. Photo Ronald Lewis

Last Updated 05 March 2016