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Art and Environment

Introduction

Making the building a work of art

“I love this building to bits. The first time I came here I cried. The patients loved the old hospital because it had a lot of character, but you can feel the atmosphere here starting to grow already.” - Sandra Smith

Healing is not only about remedies and cures; it’s also about stimulating the mind, body and the senses so that patients can better heal themselves. Since Glasgow Homoeopathic Hospital seeks to meet the physical, psychological and emotional needs of the patients and staff, it was always the intention that artists should be involved in developing the overall healing vision.

From early in the project, the Project Director, Dr David Reilly had determined there was a need for a Lead Artist who could collaborate with the Design Team to enhance the healing environment. To help him in this process Dr David Reilly sought out Elizabeth McFall of Healthcare Arts in Dundee to orchestrate the selection procedure.

She showed the Design Team a selection of artists work and from his responses set up a shortlist of around 50 artist's work. A judging panel was then set up with David Reilly, Macmon Architects, Anne Harkness and Jimmy Cosgrove of the Glasgow School of Art.

From the hundreds of images presented to them over a day, a further shortlist was compiled and the chosen artists presented their visions for the hospital in a series of interviews in the inspirational environment of the Mackintosh Boardroom.

Jane Kelly stood out from the moment she entered carrying a heavy load of bricks, tiles, leaves and many other materials from which she proceeded to construct a mosaic of possible ingredients and relationships. Her ability to move across media, to be at ease both indoors and outdoors, to work with fine arts, or décor and finishes, coupled with her capacity to actively listen to people's needs and hopes and back their vision, made her an enormous asset to the team.

“The lead artist applied her creativity to helping us choose everything from wall paint colour to furniture and fittings. Much later she would also guide the process of commissioning pieces of ‘art’ in the traditional sense.” - Dr David Reilly


Design Team

“Patients find the atmosphere soothing and relaxing - an ideal setting for people who have suffered physical and emotional stress and pain...” - Stephanie, Physiotherapy Dept

The Lead Artist’s proposal responded to both the client’s vision for the design of the new hospital to be a healing force itself and to the architect’s response to that vision, evident in the form, flow and illumination within the built environment.

Drawing upon her extensive experience in this field, inspired by the sources and processes of homoeopathy, and following in-depth consultation with the architects, artists and carers, Jane Kelly defined a restricted colour and materials palette of white, ochre, lavender and terracotta for use on walls, floors, furniture and details, using natural and organic materials whenever possible. Her proposal also set out to identify opportunities for the role of artworks that would reinforce the building’s healing philosophy.

The chosen colours along with their dilutions supported the healing atmosphere created by Macmon’s award-winning architectural design. By using the weakest dilutions of colour on the largest surfaces of walls and floors, a light and airy interior was enhanced. This was embellished at key points by concentrations of stronger hues on smaller surfaces – the soft hint of lavender in the linoleum, the mid lavender on the exterior render seen and the deep violet leather coverings to chairs and sofas.

In journeys around the building, colour palette tints and shades echo repeatedly, creating a sense of continuity and harmony. Across the white grey walls, a subtle range of reflected colour and shadow change slowly as day progresses into night. These are orchestrated by the changing natural light, both direct and reflected, and the use of complementary electric light from specially chosen lamps and fittings. All these design elements combine to create a soothing feeling of calm and refuge.


Making the Building a Work of Art

The Lead Artist’s proposal responded to both the client’s vision for the design of the new hospital to be a healing force itself and to the architect’s response to that vision, evident in the form, flow and illumination within the built environment.

Drawing upon her extensive experience in this field, inspired by the sources and processes of homoeopathy, and following in-depth consultation with the architects, artists and carers, Jane Kelly defined a restricted colour and materials palette of white, ochre, lavender and terracotta for use on walls, floors, furniture and details, using natural and organic materials whenever possible. Her proposal also set out to identify opportunities for the role of artworks that would reinforce the building’s healing philosophy.

The chosen colours along with their dilutions supported the healing atmosphere created by Macmon’s award-winning architectural design. By using the weakest dilutions of colour on the largest surfaces of walls and floors, a light and airy interior was enhanced. This was embellished at key points by concentrations of stronger hues on smaller surfaces – the soft hint of lavender in the linoleum, the mid lavender on the exterior render seen and the deep violet leather coverings to chairs and sofas.

In journeys around the building, colour palette tints and shades echo repeatedly, creating a sense of continuity and harmony. Across the white grey walls, a subtle range of reflected colour and shadow change slowly as day progresses into night. These are orchestrated by the changing natural light, both direct and reflected, and the use of complementary electric light from specially chosen lamps and fittings. All these design elements combine to create a soothing feeling of calm and refuge.


Commissioned Artworks

Working in close collaboration with the Design Team, the Lead Artist guided a commissioning process that identified key places within the building where artwork would enhance its environment and would itself be enriched by the healthcare context.

At GHH the artworks are at one with the building itself and journeys around the new hospital by patients, staff and visitors offer carefully created moments of interest and delight. In keeping with this philosophy, the choice of artists and their work did not aim always for instant impact, or even entertainment, but instead aspired to long term appreciation that would contribute to the healing process.

Through discussion, the Design Team agreed early on in the commissioning process to avoid overtly representational works which might have the potential for negative connotation or leave themselves open to ambiguously disturbing interpretation. Instead, it was decided that artworks should be in keeping with the overall aesthetics of the interior and exterior environment and a particular accent was placed on the use of natural materials. Since the underlying idea of the hospital and the design process was linked to the notion of combining separate elements to create a whole, weaving became a metaphor for healing – paper in translucent layers, fabric layered and stitched, copper strands woven with silk, and willow entwined with ash.

After a long process of visiting exhibitions, trawling artist data bases and group deliberation, a small team of artists based in the west of Scotland were commissioned to create artworks for the new healing environment – Kirsty Aitken, Jim Buchanan, Jill Blackwood, Elaine Clarke, Lizzie Farey and Jane Kelly herself. Andrew McIntyre later joined the Design Team to design and implement original stainless steel and Perspex cases and fixings for the presentation of the finished pieces. In addition, Mike Bolum was commissioned to photograph the project and Cameron McIlwham was commissioned to create this website.

“'Paradox' and 'God Shouting' are intensive areas of colour and texture. They are vibrant and rich, they require the viewer to return again and again to the works in order to fully absorb the energy and joy that these textiles radiate.” - Jilli Blackwood