Curatorial and collections: using creativity as a wellbeing tool

Curatorial and collections: using creativity as a wellbeing tool

17 May 2021

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, we've seen creativity used in a number of ways: as a tool for wellbeing, a much needed break from the realities of the day, and often as a means of expressing gratitude for the work of the NHS. Established artists and amateurs alike have taken up the paintbrush or pen and created bold, colourful messages of support for the front-line workers keeping us all going. In this blog, we hear from our Curatorial & Collections Assistant, Joey Mason, about how our curatorial programme has been celebrating our NHS heroes and lifting their spirits during Covid-19.

Thank You!
 

Imperial Health Charity's arts team wanted to find a way to bring some of this colour, positivity and immense gratitude into our hospitals. The resulting exhibition, simply and effectively titled Thank You!is a joyous celebration of NHS staff and the incredible work they do every single day.

The iconic rainbow motif pops up often in this display of prints, paintings and posters alongside messages of support and admiration. Next to each artwork is a note from the artist, praising—as featured artist Emily Williams writes —"just some of the many inspiring frontline heroes who are doing what they can to shield us from harm."

“My artworks celebrate just some of the many inspiring frontline heroes who are doing what they can to shield us from harm."

Emily Williams, artist

Even today, a year on from the first lockdown, you can still find signs and banners dotted in windows across the country adorned with a simple message: thank you! 

For those who haven’t yet seen it, the exhibition is available on our website and will arrive at St Mary’s Hospital at the end of May. After that, the works will find permanent homes across the Trust's hospitals. 

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Dana Popa: A Portrait of Our Trust
 

In the summer of 2020 we were also fortunate to work with photographer Dana Popa on a project to document the Trust at an incredible time in its history. Following a grant from Arts Council England, Dana interviewed staff from various departments and took their picture.

These sessions became opportunities for staff to discuss their experiences in the pandemic: their anxieties and fears, the struggles they and their colleagues had dealt with, but also their tenacity and resolve, and the strong bonds formed with their teams in facing the pandemic together.

At the very heart of this project was a desire to celebrate not only our incredible doctors and nurses but also porters, caterers, office staff and everyone in-between, all of which are necessary to make a hospital work.

Identically sized and shot with only natural light, the photos are visually cohesive and remind us that the sitters are equal parts of a greater whole. We're very grateful to the participants for their involvement and honesty at a difficult time and we're so pleased with the end result.  

The photography exhibition, A Portrait of our Trust, is on display as part of our Art in Focus programme. It will be on show at Hammersmith Hospital in May, and then Charing Cross Hospital in the summer of 2021. We hope you find time to take a look - you may even see someone you know! 

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We Work Together
 

Many of our projects are years in the planning but for those that came to fruition in 2020 it is nearly impossible not to look at them within the context of the pandemic. The arts team were delighted to collaborate with artist Mark Titchner on a set of bespoke vinyl designs for the recently refurbished Emergency Medicine Department at Charing Cross Hospital last summer.

Titled We Work Together, Mark’s messages of togetherness really underpin the ethos of the NHS and came at an opportune time, particularly in A&E which was one of the busiest departments throughout the pandemic.  

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Creative support for staff
 

Alongside the fantastic work our arts engagement team have done to bring virtual art workshops to staff and patients over the last year we hope that, in some small way, we've been able support and give back to staff.

With the easing of lockdowns we're happy to be on site and resuming our normal programme of works, bringing artwork to staff and patient areas.  If you would like to learn more about what we do, please don't hesitate to contact us at arts@imperialcharity.org.uk.

 

Image Credits (from top to bottom):

Morag Mysercough, Our Superheroes We Love You, 2020. Image © In Good Company.

Unknown, Praed Street, 2020. Photo © Imperial Health Charity.

Dana Popa, Mahmoud Dabo, Midwifery Inpatient Matron, 2020. Image © Dana Popa.

Mark Titchner, We Work Together, 2020. Photo © Imperial Health Charity.