Valuing our NHS: Creative and Therapeutic Arts students transform corridors of St Woolos Hospital with original Artworks
Last academic year, second year students on the BA (Hons) Creative and Therapeutic Arts degree were tasked with producing original artwork for the corridors of St Woolos Hospital.
Responding to a real-life brief from arts-in-health charity Gwent Arts in Health (GARTH) the students have created diverse photographs that explore what the NHS means to staff, students, patients, retirees and families. Much of the work focusses on valuing the experiences and voices of employees in roles that may not always be visible.
While providing a rich and authentic learning experience to students, this also enables GARTH to nurture a generations of artists equipped to respond to professional, site specific briefs.
The 2019 permanent exhibition is entitled ‘Narratives of Care’ and the official opening was buzzing with audiences moved by the stories that the students had brought to light. “Staff and visitors enjoyed the new body of work that featured many references to their working lives and thoughts about St Woolos Hospital and the NHS in general” said Sarah Goodey, the Arts Development Manager of GARTH & ABUHB. Students talked about the pride that they felt in creating work for audiences who might be feeling unwell or stressed stating: “Knowing it was going somewhere made me take it more seriously than if it was just for me … it means more than a grade, it’s about people.”
As well as all students professionally exhibiting their work at St Woolos and having support and feedback from Gwent Arts in Health, they all had the opportunity to be mentored by Public Art commissioner Studio Response. Students felt that working with arts professionals from both organisations “demystified the professional world” and was a “good opportunity to network”.
Studio Response are supporting the Arts Programme for the Grange University Hospital and had planned to commission one student artist to produce work for the new hospital that will open in 2021.
Studio Response however were so delighted with the quality of the work that they chose three students to exhibit their art work and invited another student to create participatory work on site.
The winners of the commission felt it was a “huge confidence boost” and are excited for the new hospital’s opening event in 2021. Emma Price of Studio Response said that “the award-winning artists were chosen due to the context of their practice: each creating both aesthetic and meaningful works that address the concept of health and wellbeing within the NHS and what this means to patients and service-users, staff, families and carers.
The artists’ work will be permanently exhibited in the newly built Grange University Hospital alongside established artists.”
The BA(Hons) Creative and Therapeutic Arts team are very excited that Studio Response and the Aneurin Bevan Health Board have provided funding for this project to be repeated next year. Heloise Godfrey-Talbot who lectures on the course feels that “this project makes a real difference to people’s lives and the students learn so much about working to a brief and creating art that is appropriate for a hospital setting.”
The Course Team wish to warmly thank GARTH, Studio Response, the students and the contributors to their ‘Narratives of Care’ exhibition.
Also many thanks to Michal Iwanowski for bringing the beautiful event to life through the images included on this web page.