“I’ll be doing this sky in my dreams tonight”
Art in Hospital
Published by Art in Hospital, 2006
Printed in an edition of 3000 by Summerhall Press, Edinburgh
Text © 2006, Penny Rae
Images © 2006, The Artists
All photography © 2006, Carl Cordonnier except where indicated
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any
form or by any means – graphic, electronic or mechanical, including
photocopying, recording, taping or information storage and retrieval
systems – without the prior written permission from the publishers.
Design: Frozen River
Positioning Statement Penny Rae 6
Foreword Sir Kenneth Calman 10
Art in Hospital
A POSITIONING STATEMENT
This document is about validating the
importance of creative expression of
people who are living within a hospital
context. It is based on the assumption
that art is about values, beliefs, identity,
expression and communication and
as such should be a fundamental right
of every individual, irregardless of
whether they are in hospital or not.
The first question we asked
ourselves in this study of the
work of Art in Hospital was
how to approach it. What
attitude, state of mind, was
needed in order for the
project’s emotional and artistic
substance to reveal itself? In
the end, the research process
we used was not based on
scientifically proven data, if
such is necessary to make
a convincing case, but on a
process of rational deduction
from individual perspectives,
representing them through
their own words and images.
As we entered into the world
of Art in Hospital, the rules of
interaction between the artists
and participants sometimes
seemed so fluid that they
could only be determined by
the dynamics of each individual
situation. However, what was
clear was that no evaluation
of hospital-based art practice
could be made without some
understanding of context. Art in
healthcare practice is shaped by
a particular place and particular
conditions and a particular
artistic and political moment.
It is designed to respond to
very particular situations.
Unless these situations are
experienced to some degree, is
it very hard for any evaluation
to be responsible or just?
Art in Hospital raises as many
questions as it answers. It is
driven by a belief in people
and a faith in the ability of
art to deal with social crisis.
This document aims simply to
illustrate the extraordinary
journey Art in Hospital is making
for everyone involved in some
way with the organisation;
from health care professionals
to funders, and in particular
for the artists and clients.
We hope it will inspire the
confidence in policy makers
to make a more sustained
and confident commitment
to this kind of partnership.
Penny Rae author
Carl Cordonnier photographer
Sir Kenneth Calman
PATRON OF ART IN HOSPITAL
CHANCELLOR OF GLASGOW UNIVERSITY
My interest in the arts originated from a love
of literature. During the mid 1980s, I ran an
ethics course for medical students using poems,
plays, texts and the purpose of this was to
help medical students view the world from the
perspective of the artist, and not just the medical
academic. It was an interesting time for me as
we saw these bright medical students begin
to approach their course work with a broader
and more person-orientated approach which
would hopefully make them better doctors.
their being involved in arts and their quality of
life during this time is higher. Medicine is based
on science and the quest for new knowledge. The
arts and humanities however are an important
part of this and may seem to have got lost along
the way. There is now considerable interest in
re-introducing them into the medical curriculum
but not at the expense of medical knowledge. The
medical student needs to know where the heart
is but he also needs to know about emotional
interaction and effective communication.
There were two main questions which were
in my mind. The first was do the arts and the
humanities influence medical professionals, and
secondly do the arts help people with physical
and mental illnesses recover more effectively?
There is scientific evidence for both of these
which is slowly building up. The broader your
outlook on life and the more interesting you
are as a person does allow you to see people
in a different way. In addition, I have seen the
growth and self confidence in patients through
When we founded the Centre for Arts and
Humanities in Health and Medicine we wanted
to try to bring the two worlds together. Simple
things like the environment in the doctors surgery
and looking at the evidence that people felt
better in the waiting room looking out at a garden
rather than brick walls. It seems so obvious yet
how many waiting rooms are dreary and dismal
places. So it’s not just those who are health
professionals who need to think differently, it’s
architects, planners and many others. There
is a chance with new hospital buildings to look
holistically at the treatment of patients and to
use architecture and design to endorse a holistic
approach to treatment. Design has also to be
about creating a vibrant community whether that
is for a hospital or any other kind of institution.
The arts seem to engender a sense of community.
For me the Angel of the North is a particularly
strong symbol of the nurturing positive
community spirit. It has transformed peoples’
sense of pride in Gateshead, which is now
associated with the home of the angel. When
we think about quality of life the qualities are
those which make people happy and from all my
anecdotal and personal experience, engagement
as a participant or as a spectator in the arts,
these activities help to improve quality of life and
perhaps even more appropriately when people
are unwell. To influence the acceptance of arts
in healthcare has to come from people who are
really in a position to change attitudes and policy.
When I was the Government’s Chief Medical
Officer and people knew that I was interest in
the arts I like to think that it did allow people to
think differently. People in influential positions
must always recognise the importance of their
voice. By endorsing the movement you give
people permission to move ahead. I have always
advocated the use of arts in the teaching of ethics
to doctors. While I believe that science remains
absolutely critical to medical teaching I also
believe that the arts are fundamentally necessary
to improve quality of life and the development
of a fully rounded person. Relationships between
those who fund the arts and those who fund
hospitals are essential. I suspect that more
partnerships need to take place and people
must be encouraged to think outside their own
professional box and learn from people with
different professional backgrounds. A louder
voice should be coming from those working
within the arts and healthcare. Organisations
like Art in Hospital have huge amounts of
‘evidence’ that their work is valuable. Dedicated
arts spaces in hospital are desirable. There is
a strong enough body of evidence now to endorse
the fact that an artist’s role can be critical in
the overall care of patients. Arts specialists
are often still excluded from decisions about
patient care. I hope it will not be long before they
are seen to be part of the patient care team.
Exposure to the arts and a measure of peoples’
reaction to involvement in the arts is thus very
important. Humour as a component of this also
makes people feel better. Story telling, and
art in itself, may never relieve the symptoms
but feeling valued, and being part of the
story can go a long way towards recovery.
leads to creativity both for patients and for the
artist’s own work. I think many artists would
say their own work has developed positively
through their work with people in hospitals.
We should not try to limit the development of
arts and healthcare but see it as an opportunity
for improving the quality of life for all concerned.
Professor Sir Kenneth Calman, April 2006
I sometimes use the analogy of the bucket. A
bucket filled with love, care, compassion or
whatever you wish to call it. The general idea is
that patients take out of the bucket and doctors
and other health professionals fill it. This is a
false model. There is always some love, care and
compassion and even humour in the bucket that
patients put in and doctors take out. It is I think
the same with artists who work in hospital, they
put their skills and vision and training into the
bucket but they receive a remarkable amount
back in return and it is that partnership which
DIRECTOR AND FOUNDER, ART IN HOSPITAL
I started working as an Artist in a hospital in
1989. At that time, artists working in hospitals
were completely isolated and there was
little or no recognition from either the arts
funding bodies or the health boards of the
value of this kind of work, whether it was in
visual arts, theatre, dance or music. I found
an inspired hospital manager who worked
with me on putting together a proposal for
a pilot programme of visual art work and we
established our first art room at Belvidere
hospital in Glasgow. With The Glasgow School
of Art we established a student placement
scheme and Art in Hospital was born.
Our first exhibition was in an empty ward in
December 1991. It was the result of the work of
the previous year. Disused hospital wards make
brilliant gallery spaces. We received funding for
a second year of activity and in 1993 we were
able to employ two part time artists, who were
recent graduates of The Glasgow School of Art.
We had our first public exhibition in 1994 ‘From
a staircase to a banister to the colours in the sky.’
After we were successful in receiving funding
from the health board, the project was expanded
to two more hospitals. I wanted to develop an
artistic practice that reflected my own values
and priorities which are about a belief in the
empowerment of the individual in an institutional
context. It is about an emotional response to art,
the feel of a brush on a piece of paper, the joy
of colour, the texture of paint. We have begun
to touch the surface with new media projects,
digital animation, video but we have much more
to do. I want to offer the artists flexibility in
their approaches to working with patients but
I also have to constantly demonstrate that this
particular model of practice is cost effective.
From the outset, there are certain criteria which
are essential for me to. We employ only practicing
and professional artists. When I interview artists,
I look at their practice, whether in painting,
drawing, printmaking, film, video or sculpture
but I equally consider their communication skills.
We establish dedicated art spaces in each of
the hospitals we work in. I feel it is essential to
work in a non clinical space in an environment
which is notably different to the wards.
I think of Art in Hospital as giving back choices
to people who have temporarily had choices
removed from them and developing stronger
links between medicine, treatment, care and
artistic practice, which have traditionally been
seen as having no relationship. Health care is
seen as structured and functional; art is seen
as slightly anarchic and needing freedom not
context. The reality is less divided. Artists are
open and responsive to changing situations and
health care professionals are also concerned
about individuality and quality of life for patients.
In 2006 we have over eighteen artists employed
across nine hospitals. Since we began, we have
had sixty five exhibitions, we have undertaken
projects in France, Switzerland and Belgium.
We have exhibited at ten Glasgow Art Fairs.
I want Art in Hospital to be a model for other
health boards and to suggest a new way of
working between health boards and arts
funding bodies. I want to look at our work
in partnership with hospitals in Europe and
internationally and I want eventually to
see artists, patients, hospital Clinical Staff,
Administrative Staff all endorsing the important
place of art in a hospital environment.
The potential and the demand for
expansion of our work is endless.
THE RIGHT HON.THE LORD PROVOST
COUNCILLOR LIZ CAMERON
I have watched the work of Art in Hospital
develop for the last 13 years and I emphatically
endorse its success. Care for the elderly is of
particular interest for me and I have always
seen the results of their work in physical
rehabilitation. I believe wholeheartedly in their
approach of sharing skills and facilitating a
creative environment for the people they are
working with. Not only is it transforming for them
mentally and emotionally; nursing staff have
talked to me about the improvements they see
in patients’ confidence, level of mental alertness
and even in their physical conditions. I think
their work is pioneering and I am delighted to be
associated with it and support it. It is important
to remember that health doesn’t just mean an
absence of sickness but a state of well being.
I remember walking into the hospital at
Blawarthill Hospital and seeing artists working,
intent and absorbed. Then I realised that most
of the patients were in their 80’s and it was an
uplifting moment that I will remember for ever.
I’m also delighted that Art in Hospital have
such a prominent place at the Glasgow Art
Fair. The organisation is an integral part
of the arts in Glasgow. The work is of such
high quality that it comes as no surprise to
me that it sells so well. The quality control
comes from the patients being supported by
talented and dedicated professional artists.
Alzheimers doesn’t so much as run in my
family, it gallops and I want to know that if I
am hospitalised and need constant care when
I get older that there will be talented and
dedicated artists sharing their skills with me, so
I have very selfish reasons too for supporting
so completely the work of Art in Hospital.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF CULTURE & SPORT
GLASGOW CITY COUNCIL
What is sometimes perceived as social
engineering through art is often criticised but I
believe wholeheartedly in the transformational
power of art and its worth and value to
individual lives. My involvement with Art in
Hospital is at policy level, ensuring that work
like this is not marginalised but an integral part
of Glasgow’s arts policy. In the field of health
care for the elderly, the emphasis seems to be
shifting from the importance of prolonging life
for its own sake to an acceptance that quality
of life must be provided at every stage of life.
In the same way, evaluation of arts policies
in this area cannot simply be about numbers
but must also take into account anecdotal
evidence about the value to patients and
health care workers of art and arts practice.
We need to have more advocates at opinion
forming level to ensure revenue funding
for organisations that work in this area.
Arts projects in health care work when the artists
do not compromise on the quality of work and the
sharing of all their skills. No one wants access to
mediocrity, everyone wants access to excellence.
This is why Art in Hospital is so successful. Skilled
and talented professional artists are employed
in a way that firstly allows them to share their
experience and secondly allows them the time
and space to continue their own professional
development. All the artists I have seen working
within the Art in Hospital projects are committed
to what they are doing. Their communication skills
and levels of involvement with patients and health
care staff is the cornerstone of their success.
As a possible model for funding and access to the
arts in hospital, I am particularly interested in the
GP referral scheme that currently applies to sport
and would like to see it extended to arts practice.
Art in Hospital is constantly evolving as an
organisation and as a body of artists. We are
trying to consolidate our work but at the same
time we want to move forward with new ways
of involvement and new practice. I see part
of our role as being to validate the concept of
peoples’ privacy within an institution. That
means offering them the choice to come into
an environment that suggests new ways of
expressing themselves personally. It means
helping to find a form of visual expression for
people that is non-judgemental and in which
no one makes assumptions about what people
can or cannot do simply because they are in a
hospital situation. That’s the basic philosophy of
the organisation for me. The process follows of
creating work and the finished work is at the end
of the line and all are important, but no moment
is more important for me than when someone
picks up that pencil, brush or charcoal for the
very first time and makes that initial mark. The
strength of our work is shown by the demand
for us to open our practice to more units, more
nursing homes, more hospitals, more artists.
Our resources are constantly stretched and
difficult decisions are constantly having to
be made. We would like to offer more artists,
more time for development, for discussion,
for evaluation and widen access to all.
Current levels of funding make it impossible.
PATIENT AND ARTIST
I wasn’t allowed to do art at school because I had
a German surname. I had to do the sweeping up
instead. I think my early paintings were terrible
but the artists encouraged me to persevere. I’ve
only missed 2 art sessions in the last 3 years. It’s
the most important thing I do. It’s the only time
I lose myself and forget about the cancer. I’m in
a wee world of my own. I feel warm and secure. I
started out by just looking at the paintings in the
books and sometimes I just sat there and looked
at the flowers. It’s difficult to explain the feeling
when they told me someone had bought one of
my paintings at the Art Fair. It was unbelievable.
I was choked up. I think it was one of the most
important moments in my life. Can you imagine?
Someone paid for one of my paintings, then took
it home and hung it on their wall. Unbelievable.
SENIOR PROJECT MANAGER
I don’t believe in altruism. I do a job that
brings immense satisfaction and it is a job that
includes frail and vulnerable people. I think
the demand for our work will always be there.
Initially, other health care workers can be wary
of us and of what we do, but then become very
receptive. I think that we’re in quite a privileged
position compared to the care staff. They are
having to cope with primary care needs whilst
we are there to help to release creativity in
people and give them back some choices. As
artists we all have lots of ideas as to how to
develop projects; ideas are never a problem
but resourcing them is problem. I would
describe our work as person centred but within
the parameters of prescribed hospital life.
My own practice has been clearly influenced
by the people I work with here. I am working in
hospitals with people who are very hesitant and
unsure of the materials they are working with,
whether its charcoal, acrylics, pastels or oils.
When I’m in my own studio I try much harder
now to let go with my materials and to enjoy
them. I know I have become more confident
in the use of texture, colour and surface.
PATIENT AND ARTIST
I’ll be doing this sky in my dreams
tonight. I know I won’t be able to
sleep unless I get that sky right. You
see I’m a learner with a capital ‘L’.
The simple fact is that I was unhappy
before I started painting and I’ve
been happy since. Once a week’s
just not enough. I should be painting
every day. I should always have
been painting. It would have kept
me out of trouble. I’ve always been
in trouble. My parents despaired of
me. There were all sorts of troubles
in my life. I was married three times
and all my husbands died. I sit in
this room with my paints and I feel
joy, hope and happiness. I’m at one
with the world for the first time.
I’m at one with
the world for
the first time.
Dr Paul Knight
MEDICINE FOR THE ELDERLY
In 1991 I was given the management of the care
for the elderly unit and part of my understanding
of that brief was to enhance the quality of life
for people in the unit. Provision of artists and
dedicated art spaces within hospitals are not part
of the strategic thinking within primary care but
I believe there should be strategic partnerships
between health boards and those organisations
which fund the arts. In the same way that funding
partnerships are necessary, a holistic approach
to care is also essential; not just in the hospital
but when possible in the hospital outreach
programmes. Joint working should become
an ethos. Everyone has such severe budgetary
restraints that it’s the only way forward for this
kind of work. It’s easy to say that for a relatively
modest investment, there are very high returns. I
can see that the work is far more than diversional.
There are the workshops, the exhibitions, the
Art Fair and lots of other public moments. I can
understand now how important this work is.
Projects like Art in Hospital develop from a kernel
and are nurtured by one enthusiastic protagonist.
In this case it was Barbara Gulliver.
ART IN HOSPITAL
I enjoy applying the skills that
I have learnt to support other
peoples’ work. Our work is
not about analysis; the results
may be therapeutic but I am
not a therapist. I am an Artist
sharing what I know. Working
in a group is an important part
of the process. A third focus is
created between ourselves and
the patients. We are relating
to each other through art and
achievement and process. It’s a
very different conversation to
illness, treatments and doctors.
SENIOR ARTS DEVELOPMENT OFFICER
GLASGOW CITY COUNCIL
I look at Art in Hospital in the same way I look at
any professional visual arts organisation working
in the city. I don’t pigeon hole them within a
social context because they’re all professional
artists who are developing their own practice at
the same time as sharing their skills and training
with a particularly venerable section of the
community. I don’t see how you can make a rigid
distinction between this kind of work and any
other professional practice. I imagine the work
the artists do in the Glasgow hospitals feeds
into their practice in the same way as any other
important life experience feeds their practice.
ARTIST, ART IN HOSPITAL
wish would be
space on every
The ultimate wish would be dedicated art
space on every hospital site. Each one would
have open access for visitors, staff, patients
and visitors. There would be exhibitions,
performances, residencies, public art
programmes, artists’ studios. They would be
living, vibrant non-institutional spaces within
the necessary confines of the hospitals.
I hope that health care professionals are gradually
understanding and endorsing the place of the
artist’s work in hospitals. There is still a sense that
all the other professionals working in a health care
context have their place but that the Artist remains
on the periphery. As artists we are often working
up to five hours a day with individual patients,
more hours than any other member of staff.
ARTIST COORDINATOR, ARTS IN
PALLIATIVE CARE, ART IN HOSPITAL
It’s hard to dispel the myth that we’re
therapists. We are artists who have
made a choice to spend time working
here at the hospice. We are not here to
analyse. For us this is not a therapeutic
practice but an artistic practice. Our
discussions with patients are about
colour and light and materials. Each
time I look at the walls of this room, I
see extraordinary stories. Over there
I can see the sun setting over the loch
painted by someone who has a brain
tumour. The landscape next to it was
painted by a man who has just relearnt
to use his left hand. That series of small
paintings have been done by someone
who has lost all verbal skills and needed
a way to say thank you to her carers. Not
long ago, we were visited by a man who
wanted to collect his mother’s paintings.
She had died some weeks previous
to his visit and he said it was the only
legacy he had of her. There is a lot of
colour and a lot of laughter in this room.
PATIENT AND ARTIST
I’d love to have
gone to Art School.
I would never have
missed a class.
I’d have been the
first one in and the
last one out.
I’m an insomniac. I only sleep
for an hour or so at a time. I
used to lie there awake, just
worrying and thinking. Now I
keep my paints and my easel
by my bed and when I wake
up I paint. Sometimes I get
my best ideas in the night.
Since I started painting I’ve
cut down on my smoking. I
used to smoke about 60 a day
and now I smoke about 15.
I would paint all day and all night
if I could. I’d love to have gone
to Art School. I would never have
missed a class. I’d have been the
first one in and the last one out.
SENIOR PROJECT MANAGER, ART IN HOSPITAL
Working for Art in Hospital is ideal for artists
as they have time to work alone in the studio
as well as time working with the patients.
The isolation and self-absorption that is often
a problem for some artists is reduced by
the very intensive time with the patients.
There is always an element of surprise working
with elderly residents. I worked with an 86 year
old woman who had left school at 13 to look after
her brothers and discovered painting through
Art in Hospital. She had amazing energy and
experimented with a wide range of materials. She
was very talented. Her enthusiasm for painting
changed her life at 86. Her story inspired me
and in turn renewed an enthusiasm for my own
work. Those stories aren’t unusual and many
of us working as artists within the project are
constantly refreshed by the enthusiasm and
dedication of the patients. I’ve found that
artists who no longer work with traditional
materials become drawn to them again through
their time spent working with patients.
I’ve worked with a number of the different
client groups. With the elderly in the
Mansionhouse Unit, with clients through
the Epilepsy Connection, with the physically
disabled rehab unit. I’ve also worked on
preparing work for the Art Fair, which is
often an important boost to the patients
whose work is selected and sold.
We could do a lot more if we were adequately
resourced to develop. We could create more
dedicated workshop spaces and have more
exhibitions. We could spend more time in
staff training and develop our skills. I see
healthcare staff attitudes changing when
they see the results of what we do. Open
days are important where people can see
the work and understand the process and give
the artists a higher profile in the hospitals.
We’re all pushed for time. We have lots of
contact time with patients, there aren’t the
resources to allow us to develop ideas and
talk amongst other artists about what works
and why as much as we like. It would be great
to employ a fundraiser, someone to market
and promote the work, and a curator to keep
the exhibitions fresh across the hospitals.
PATIENT AND ARTIST
I’m working on a painting
now that was inspired by
my holiday in Yorkshire.
It’s a painting of the
North York Moors. I’m
trying to bring back the
light from my holiday.
I remember looking out at
the cliffs, the lighthouse,
the tractors in the fields.
It’s all there. I’ve just got
to try to bring it back
and put it here. I had
my first brain tumour
around my 38 th birthday.
ARTIST, ART IN HOSPITAL
I work with digital media and the person centred
approach that is the ethos of Art in Hospital very
much reflects my own approach to making and
researching work. Process is very important to
me, in both my own art practice and my work
with Art in Hospital. It is not about setting goals.
It’s ongoing and has to be seen as long term in
the way we build relationships and trust. I think
the art room is often perceived as an oasis in the
hospital. It can be seen as good and bad that we’re
not part of multi-disciplinary care teams within the
hospital. On one hand it gives us autonomy and
independence but it does mean we are always on
the edge. I think what we do is to make space to
allow people to find something within themselves.
I begin new sessions by
introducing myself on the
wards. I describe the art space.
I ask people to come and visit
the space and when they do
come, I encourage them to
respond to the materials in
their own way. I think when
people are given the opportunity
they can communicate an
idea or a thought visually
which they wouldn’t
normally say using words.
At the moment I’m creating a
project about reduced personal
space and I’m looking at how
people relate to personal objects
in such a reduced environment.
For example, there can be four
people living in a ward and
their personal possessions are
reduced to clothing and one
or two framed photographs.
Working with people with
dementia, for example, can
be rewarding and can also be
very frustrating. There can be
sessions when no two words
relate to each other and other
days when everything flows
for that same individual.
Sometimes people have to walk
past the art room many times
before they actually come in,
and even then it takes another
few weeks before they have the
confidence to do anything. We
have to be patient and ready to
help them build on this over time.
Bill created a video postcard
to send to his daughter in
Canada. He had never held
a video camera before and
he immediately created a
very personal relationship
with it, both in front of and
behind the camera. He filmed
other residents too and they
responded to the camera
very positively. There would
have been a very different
response if I had been holding
the camera. As artists working
in this way, we sometimes
have to make ourselves
invisible. Our role becomes
to help people translate a
thought or an idea by sharing
the creative skills we have.
ARTIST, ART IN HOSPITAL
As an artist it is rewarding
to share what you know
with someone else and to
see amazing results simply
from that information being
passed on. Perhaps we can
be credited with providing
some of the pieces in the
jigsaw but the overall concept
and result belongs to the
individuals we are working
with. The art rooms are an
essential part of our work. They
counteract the impersonal
and often sterile atmosphere
of the hospital and provide
a neutral space for us all.
There are very few rewarding
ways of supporting yourself as
an Artist. This is one of them.
When an individual piece of work
is completed for the first time
by one of the patients, you can
see an amazing pride in that
achievement and it’s always
backed up by support from
other patients in the room.
The training programmes offered
to us are really important and
I’ve picked up lots of new skills
through attending them.
Overall I’ve become more
patient by my involvement in
this kind of work, which has to
be good for my own practice.
PATIENT AND ARTIST
The paintings don’t feel as though they come
from me. The paint and the brushes take over. I
think I’ve got an Artist’s name. ‘Alice Shambrook’.
I used to work for years and years in a shop in
Sauchiehall Street opposite Glasgow School
of Art. I used to stand in the doorway of the
shop and look up at the School of Art and all
the magic that spilled out of there. Now I’m
an Artist and I’m a part of that same magic.
When I had my stroke I felt like a nobody and a
nothing. Now I feel like someone special when
people say ‘Alice, is that your painting over
there?’ and I say ‘Yes, that’s my painting.’
You see art should be part of the world of
all the ordinary people like me who never
had a chance to be part of the magic.
Dr Keith Beard FRCP Edin
MEDICINE FOR THE ELDERLY,
VICTORIA INFIRMARY, GLASGOW
Flashes of realization come to me through
personal experiences. I remember one long
stay patient. She used to crochet dishcloths
for the hospital fairs. They were grey and
I remember always associating the grey
dishcloths she was crocheting with her as a
person. Then one day I saw that she had gone
to the art room with one of the artists. She
was completing an acrylic painting of flowers
in very vivid primary colours and I suddenly
realized that I’d completely missed the point.
For a very long time after that incident, I related
to my patients in a different kind of way and
I hope that incident will remain with me as
long as I am working with elderly people.
The other important moment for me in relation
to Art in Hospital was when I finally understood
that the artists weren’t trying to prove
anything through the work they were doing
with patients. They were open, non-prejudiced,
non-judgemental and weren’t setting any goals.
Barbara had always explained to me that the
work wasn’t therapy but I needed to understand
that by seeing it. There was simply an open
acceptance of everyone’s ability and the artists
were sharing these values with my patients.
There was absolutely no sense of imposition.
I don’t know how to measure success in this area
of work. I don’t know if it reduces dependency
on medication. I don’t know if a growth in self
confidence and happiness means a lesser sense
of dependence. There is speculation amongst
my colleagues that the art workshops keep
some of our patients going. I personally had
a patient who I firmly believe found an added
strength to get through her surgery because of
wanting to get back to an unfinished painting.
But to actually measure the cost and benefit
in this area is extraordinarily difficult. What I
do know is that Art in Hospital has been going
for over 13 years and innumerable people have
benefited from this project. Let’s face it, within
the current financial constraints and pressures
of the National Health Service a lot of people
must be lobbying to keep them going. I think
of myself as a Lobbyist for Art in Hospital and
strongly defend their funding wherever I go.
I remember Art in Hospital producing a patient,
Crawford Mitchell’s solo painting show. It was
an extraordinary event but the real moment for
me came later, when I was watching him create
new work in the hospital. He knew exactly what
he was doing and he was clear and focused. As
he became ill and started to disappear, so too
did his work. I think it was at that time that
I understood the work of Art in Hospital.
PATIENT AND ARTIST
I feel relaxed and peaceful
when I’m here. I’ve never been
forced or even asked to come.
It was just a suggestion that
I might enjoy myself. But it’s
more than enjoyment working
with the artists. It’s something
that makes me feel very proud.
I used to knit and I was always
knitting for the family. Now I
paint and that’s what the family
get from me now, my painting.
It’s completely brilliant doing
painting. My family think it
is too. They all came down
to the Art Fair. Everyone got
dressed up and they all came
down to see my painting.
I used to knit…
now I paint.
OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY ASSISTANT
…the nursing staff
think of Sam in
relation to his art,
Sam, the Artist…
The artists bring a sense of wonder that is so
often lost in an institution. You can call it what
you like but I call it wonder. It would be disastrous
to lose that from this hospital for patients and
staff. The artists have a very special way of seeing
the patients. When people spend large periods
of time in hospitals they become very dependent
and somehow through the art patients are given
back some of that lost independence. What a gift?
Sam never painted before. It’s hard to believe
that now because the nursing staff think of
Sam in relation to his art, Sam, the artist who
is always painting. With his growth in selfconfidence
and self-esteem I have seen a
new physical and mental strength in him.
Sarah had always refused to join any group.
Now I see her confidant, happy and smiling.
She still won’t go to any other group but
she doesn’t miss going to the art room.
DIRECTOR OF NORTH GLASGOW
COMMUNITY HEALTH CARE PARTNERSHIP
The role of the NHS in Continuing Care is changing
dramatically. Care for the Elderly is becoming less
about clinical intervention and more and more
about ensuring continuing quality of life.
A care package should in theory comprehensively
include priority services and non mainstream
services. Once patients have been discharged
from hospital, we have to consider rehabilitation
and a range of activities to enhance quality of life
and most importantly to avoid readmittance.
We all see the benefits of the work
of Art in Hospital although the
measurable benefits are less easy
to document. I have to measure
numbers, capacities, facilities.
The arts funders have to support
us with the non measurable
benefits of the arts, because their
evaluation systems must take
into account the artists and the
work, which we, within the health
sector cannot do. The aspirations
that we have for holistic provision
for elderly people are much
greater than what we can provide
financially. I can only see those
tensions getting worse. We are
currently looking at social models
of care for the elderly and how to
deliver social care models more
effectively. The pilot projects we
set up with Art in Hospital are in
recognition of those changes
Maureen Henderson OBE
DIRECTOR OF NURSING
GREATER GLASGOW NHS
I first found out about Art in Hospital in 1993 at
Cowglen as part of the Continuing Care facility.
I began by seeing the work as diversional therapy
and welcomed it in that context but over the last
10 years my views have changed as I understand
the work more. It’s essential for Art in Hospital
to continue and I honestly believe that the
majority of nursing staff are of the same opinion.
There are so many negative stories
about the health service; it’s good to
have a success story. Art in Hospital
has a real credibility because of the
sensitivity the artists have to working
within the confines of a hospital and
because of the quality of work the
patients produce with the support
of the artists. I remember talking to
someone who had been in the art
sessions who told me it was the first
time he had something different to
talk to his relatives about. There’s
an important knock on effect too.
Families can gain a new respect for their
relatives who they may have begun to
see primarily as a patient. That can be
very important for example in a family
discussion about the future of a patient.
Life is very dull for people in long term
care. I was delighted to see that Art in
Hospital had extended their services
to the spinal and rehabilitation units.
PATIENT AND ARTIST
I was brought up in the East End
of Glasgow and you didn’t do
art in the East End of Glasgow
when I was a boy. I come to
paint here now twice a week.
I’d come every day if the artists
were here. I like to work with
acrylic. I like charcoal too, but
it’s difficult to control my hands
so the charcoal smudges easily
if you can’t keep a steady hand.
I’ve tried water colours too but
somehow I always go back to
acrylics for the effect I want.
VISUAL ARTS OFFICER, SCOTTISH ARTS COUNCIL
Hospitals are microcosms of communities
and within every community, there is always
an Artist. It is a fundamental given with
Art in Hospital that the artists are always
professionally trained and interested in their
own practice. I never question that assurance.
Because of this principle, there is a consistently
high quality of engagement and of work.
I have always fought for the arts funding bodies to
recognize this area of work and to mainstream it
as core provision. Sustainable funding is essential
for the development of the work. It has to be
about partnerships between the arts funders and
the health boards. Between us all, there has to be
an endorsement of artists working in institutions
like hospitals, hospices, day care centres.
In the end it comes down to basic humanity
doesn’t it? Doctors, administrators, patients,
artists, managers. We all know the value of this
kind of provision, we all want to offer it to
patients, we all want to support artists who
choose to work in this field. We see the results.
All of this goes without saying. The problem is
putting the jigsaw together so that we maximize
funding opportunities and take these projects
forward. The evidence base is growing and now
there are mapping exercises to monitor what
is happening in the area of art and health.
OUTPATIENT AND ARTIST
I remember this incredible feeling of relief when I
first found the art space at the hospital. I nearly cried
when someone offered me a choice of teas and a
choice of biscuits. Actually, I think I did cry, with relief.
The circumstances of my life had changed traumatically
overnight and the contact with the artists was the first
time that I was offered the opportunity to acknowledge
that change and to express what was happening inside
my head. It was a totally safe space for that expression
and there were no expectations or assumptions
about what I could or couldn’t do. The artists gave me
information. They responded to what I was trying to say
visually and allowed me to process those thoughts.
Art in Hospital provided me with a level of sanity and self
recognition that I thought I had almost lost. I didn’t know
how to do ‘life’ any more in this new situation. I remember
the feeling of self-affirmation when I was painting and I
realised that the way I felt when I was painting was the
way I had to make myself feel in my day to day life.
ART IN HOSPITAL ACKNOWLEDGES SUPPORT FROM
This document was made possible through additional funds outwith the core programme.