We are thrilled to present We Work Together by Mark Titchner, an artwork specifically commissioned for Charing Cross Hospital’s accident and emergency department in 2020.
Titchner created this work after spending time talking with staff about their ideas and ambitions, about how it feels to work here, what they hope for patients and what it means to be part of the wider community the hospital serves. The resulting eleven artworks are situated across the entire department and convey messages of hope, pride and unity.
The background design began with the idea of landscape or foliage, soft and natural in contrast to the functionality of the hospital. Titchner wanted to form a connection between the work done in the hospital and the calming influence of the natural world. He began to look at how plants are used in the production of modern pharmaceuticals.
The fourteen plants used in the designs are all used for this purpose, for example Atropa belladonna (deadly nightshade) in the production of Atropine, or Digitalis purpurea (purple or common foxglove) in the production of Digoxin. The artist then made drawings of these plants based on the illustrations found in Köhler's Medicinal Plants, written principally by Hermann Adolph Köhler between 1887 and 1898.
Photo credit: James Gifford-Mead
Titchner says “it was important to me to attempt to create an artwork that had a practical function in the hospital. I hoped to do so by emphasising some fundamental values and reminding us of the powerful community formed by staff, patients and the general public”.
“Whilst I wanted the artworks to be linked to the working medical life of the hospital I felt this needed to be done in a visually pleasurable way. I was thinking of a kind of exotic, dream landscape in contrast to the clean functional space of the building. My approach in doing this was going right back to the botanical starting point of modern medicine and connecting the natural world with the scientific one.”
There are other intentional connections with the hospital and medicine in these works. The font used throughout is from the Nimbus Sans family designed during the 1940s around the same time the NHS was formed in 1948.