Works of art hung in hospital staff rooms are a tonic for UK healthcare workers

Rana Begum and the Chapman brothers have donated works to the #100NHSRooms initiative

Peter Liversidge's hand-painted signs at Wennington Green on the junction of Roman and Grove roads in East London © Peter Liversidge

Peter Liversidge's hand-painted signs at Wennington Green on the junction of Roman and Grove roads in East London © Peter Liversidge

Works by high-profile artists such as Rana Begum, Jeremy Deller and Catherine Yass will be displayed in 100 staff respite rooms at five London hospitals as part of a new project known as #100NHSRooms. More than 35 artists have so far contributed to the initiative aimed at boosting the wellbeing of NHS doctors and nurses in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

All of the donated works will go on show in new staff rooms across several east London hospitals (St Bartholomew's, Royal London Hospital, Whipps Cross, Mile End and Newham University Hospital); the scheme is organised by Vital Arts—the arts organisation linked to Barts Health NHS Trust which runs the five hospitals—in collaboration with the artist Shezad Dawood and the contemporary art organisation Modern Forms.

Deller has donated his Thank God for Immigrants watercolour (2020), co-created with graphic designer Fraser Muggeridge, while Turner prizewinner Mark Wallinger has made a series of new collages called Other Spaces (2020). Healthcare professionals can also savour Jake and Dinos Chapman’s Smiley Face (2018), an uplifting technicolour glitter screenprint.

Jake and Dinos Chapman, Smile and the world smiles with you (2018) Courtesy of the artists

#100NHSRooms was conceived and developed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, says Catsou Roberts, the director of Vital Arts. “Shezad Dawood approached me wanting to support the NHS in some way as an artist. At the same time, senior management at Barts Health NHS Trust turned to Vital Arts about providing artwork for several rooms which they intended to newly create or upgrade specifically as staff rooms. I put the two initiatives together and developed the idea with Shezad to bring works directly into these areas,” she adds.

“Parallel to the market economy, there is a huge economy of giving and supporting,” Dawood says, who approached artists based in east London. “Around 70% of artists have created new works. Simon Beaugie provided framing services for free; the entire process has been democratic and forward facing.” All of the works will also be available to view online with explanatory texts and quotes provided by participating artists.

Rory McDermott, consultant respiratory physician at Newham University Hospital, says: “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.”


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