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New Maternity and Neonatal Unit

Spinning Gold - art and architecture programme


The redeveloped Maternity Unit and new Neonatal extension within SGH campus brings together for the first time in Glasgow, Neonatal, Medical and Surgical Intensive Care. The facility will include a new state-of-the-art labour suite and two obstetric theatres plus a separate Fetal Medicine department, providing specialist diagnostic facilities and treatment to unborn babies.

The art and architecture programme for the Southern General Maternity unit was commissioned  in October 2008 during the final stages of completion of the new Neonatal extension. Lead Artist partnership Koan3 worked in collaboration with an Art & Therapeutic Design sub management group – including Neonatal clinicians, Maternity staff and a key Planning manager- set up within the management structure of the Maternity Project Board. Koan3 also liaised with the project architect in developing a colour logic for the internal spaces to aide wayfinding throughout the new Neonatal building.


The conceptual approach and subsequent art projects were in the most part, shaped by the invaluable input received during ‘drop in’ sessions organised for staff and service users to give feedback, thoughts and  suggestions on what they felt was essential in creating a therapeutic environment which would enhance the individual experience of the maternity environment.

‘The Journey’ emerged as a key underlying theme for the ‘Spinning Gold’ art programme which encompassed both the physical and emotional aspects of the Maternity experience within the building. From the mother’s arrival pre delivery to waiting to be admitted, her migration through the building to getting settled and prepared to give birth.

Koan3 identified key zones on this route which presented opportunities for artworks to provide a more personal and reassuring environment; helping to reduce confusion and anxiety by improving the individual experience of arrival, wayfinding and waiting for service users. The artworks make subtle references to nature and the celebration of life.

Spinning Gold – art programme in progress

Five artists were selected and appointed through an application process led by Koan3. Each undertook a project plotted along the Maternity ‘route’ within the unit as follows:

Main Maternity Entrance Artworks
Commissioned Artist:

The Flowerers - takes inspiration from the exquisite embroidery of the Ayrshire muslin ‘Flowerers’. Their use of symbols of purity and elegance is given a contemporary twist through the use of colour and modular patterns created solely by intersecting circles produced on translucent glazing film.

Meadow Wall  -seven individual hexagonal wooden panels wall mounted opposite the reception area and aligned with each other in keeping with the flowerers modular pattern.

To view this artwork in context please click here

Lobby Access Lift Areas Artwork : Petals
Commissioned Artist:

Petals –The ceiling artwork uses natural geometries to form a visual language that balances femininity with science. A collection of three – dimensional ‘petal’ forms which are derived from a basic hexagon, each rotates in six directions to form a seemingly random scattering which encourages the eye along the route connecting to the main corridor.

Main Maternity Corridor Artwork: Colour Sentences
Commissioned Artist:

Colour Sentences – is a linear installation of shallow lightboxes which layer delicate plant imagery with sequenced ‘bands’ of developing colour to draw the eye along the main Maternity Corridor  emphasising the transitional nature of this space.

Maternity Night Entrance: Strands
Commissioned Artist: Tony Stallard 

Strands - a site-specific light sculpture in neon, designed to suggest DNA or RNA strands connecting the space, this ‘joining’ or ‘coupling’ by way of ‘strands’ suggest a symbolic reference to the biological link between Mother and child as well as the physical linking of spaces between the Maternity buildings in an architectural sense.

Neonatal Waiting Rooms: River of Names ( interactive Digital)
Commissioned Artist: Nicola Gear

River of Names - an interactive digital artwork for the monitors in the Neonatal waiting rooms. Visitors are able to touch the image of flowing water on the screens to hear the voices of local people telling stories and sharing memories surrounding the subject of naming a child.

Neonatal Main stairwell : Sonar Landscapes
Lead Artist: Koan3

Sonar Landscapes is intended as a wayfinding artwork which ‘flows down through all three floors of the Neonatal unit stairwell. Each section houses a small portal window at the centre, softly lit and encompassing a miniature landscape themed to correspond to the level of energy and emotion on that particular floor.

Neonatal Roof Terrace: Garden of Contemplation
Lead Artist :Koan3

Garden of Contemplation - an ornamental ‘viewing garden’ on the roof terrace over looked by the Special Care Baby Unit and potentially the new Children’s Hospital. The design focuses on a contemplative space, which incorporates visual poetry/typography etched onto delicately coloured glass panels; intended to evoke pauses in time and moments captured between thoughts it offers a peaceful focus for visitors.

Lead Artist Curator: Koan3 (Artists Callum Sinclair & Lorraine Aaron)

Architects:  Hypostyle

Funders:  Grant funding £200,000 received from Yorkhill Children’s Foundation
                Contributions from Women & Children’s Directorate

Key Dates:  Appointment of Lead Artist – Oct 2008
                   Art programme Install begins – July 2010
                   Expected Completion – Most artworks by Oct 2011
                   Two projects affected by Maternity Refurb timeline.

Linda Schwab click here

Ingrid Hu 
        Paula Thompson 

Linda Schwab, Meadow Wall

Last Updated: 07 February 2019