Leading artists donate works to 100 NHS staff respite rooms across 5 east London hospitals
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Leading artists donate works to 100 NHS staff respite rooms across 5 east London hospitals
Peter Liversidge hand-painted signs at Wennington Green on the junction of Roman and Grove roads in East London © Peter Liversidge.

LONDON.- In response to the current crisis, Barts Health NHS Trust, one of the largest in the UK, is upgrading existing areas and creating new spaces in which clinical staff can find rest and respite. Aligning with these developments, #100NHSRooms is a charitably funded initiative bringing new artworks to 100 rooms across Barts Health, including St Bartholomew’s, Royal London Hospital, Whipps Cross, Mile End and Newham Hospital.

Vital Arts, the Arts & Health service for Barts Health NHS Trust, has collaborated with artist Shezad Dawood and Modern Forms on this project to further their ongoing mission to support the well-being of both patients and hospital employees through the arts.

With mounting evidence demonstrating the benefits of art on mental health in clinical settings, the initiative will be a lasting legacy of a commitment to the well-being of NHS frontline workers.

The project responds to the current pandemic, but the impact of the artworks will extend beyond it, recognising the adverse effects of intense pressure on staff and promoting the importance of an enhanced environment for reflection and calm.

Dr. Rory McDermott, Consultant Respiratory Physician at Newham University Hospital, says:

#100NHSRooms has much less to do with paintings in a staff room, and much more to do with what remains when the world is rapidly changing around you. The project will afford frontline staff a few moments to take stock, absorb the art and ponder the questions that it raises before returning to patient care – like a child hiding in a wardrobe getting ready to come out again.

Donating artists to date: Mania Akbari & Douglas White; Charles Avery; Shiraz Bayjoo; Rana Begum; Victor Burgin; Matthew Burrows; Oliver Chanarin; Jake and Dinos Chapman; Petra Cortright; Shezad Dawood; Jeremy Deller & Fraser Muggeridge; Eloise Fornieles; Gaia Fugazza; Margarita Gluzberg; Anne Hardy; Diango Hernández; Henry Hudson; Harminder Singh Judge; Peter Liversidge; Lakwena Maciver; Marta Marcé; Haroon Mirza; Annie Morris; Yelena Popova; Shaan Syed; Conrad Shawcross; The Grantchester Pottery; Barbara Walker; Mark Wallinger; and Catherine Yass.

Working together, Vital Arts, Shezad Dawood and Modern Forms appealed to a sense of solidarity amongst artists in gathering these donations. A large proportion of participants live within the east London area that the hospitals serve, which has long been a hub of the city’s art scene.

As such, #100NHSRooms demonstrates the strength of community, channelling a desire amongst multinational artists to open a meaningful dialogue with their NHS neighbours and to convey their profound gratitude.

The #100NHSRooms initiative has been realised largely through donations and voluntary work, manifesting the culture of generosity in the arts community. Catsou Roberts, Director of Vital Arts, says:

It has been a rich and fruitful collaboration with Modern Forms and the artist Shezad Dawood, who has been a driving force behind the project. Vital Arts is deeply grateful to all participating artists for giving multiple works - many made especially for the project. We are indebted to Simon Beaugie for kindly donating frames and framing services, and to Pelham Communications for providing PR support pro bono. We are keen to bring enriching artwork directly to our clinical colleagues - in those areas, and during this moment - when they might need it most. I believe these artworks will offer comfort and inspiration and convey the respect we hold for frontline staff during this difficult time.

Dr. Ian Basnett, Public Health Director at Barts Health NHS Trust, adds:

Art allows our minds to travel to different places, which is particularly important during stressful times. Our staff have been fantastic during this pandemic, and they will appreciate that this charitable initiative has been able to secure artwork for so many staff rooms where they will find rest and respite.

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