The corridor at the children’s emergency department at St George’s Hospital is very long and was under-utilised. The brief for the project team was to present the corridor as a normal space that was safe and inviting for children.
The initiative was led by Belinda Harward, arts director at St George's Healthcare NHS Trust, and funded by Arts St George’s, who are supported by St George’s Hospital Charity and promote a therapeutic and healing environment by bringing art and live events to patient, public and staff spaces.
Belinda: “It’s a very long corridor, which was previously painted white – an area of blank space that families, children in particular, found daunting. It’s also an extremely busy area, with more than 37,000 children attending the emergency department in a typical year.”
A ‘Friendly Forest’ frieze by London-based artist Donna Wilson was the theme for this project, achieved using precision cut self-adhesive vinyl applied to the corridor walls of the children's emergency department.
Many are agitated and find it difficult to concentrate on anything for long and, because the youngest children cannot explain their symptoms, parents will also be anxious. The team agreed on creative artwork using simple forms, including creatures, points of interest and items young children would recognise and engage with – all features that could be pointed out by hospital staff accompanying children. Experience from a previous commission awarded to New Vision dictated that the wall artwork should be mounted using coloured vinyl, a medium already approved for cleaning, infection control and building maintenance.
Donna, who heads up a hand-made textile products company, is passionate about creating products that people can connect with and for St George’s the work needed to be uplifting for kids of all ages, with lots of things going on at different height levels.
The corridor was transformed into a very different space, meaning that children and their families were distracted from the anxieties of being in hospital and had lots of visual stimulation.
Donna: “We lined the wall with curious looking trees, in which various creatures live - a smiling cat, a family of hand-drawn koalas, a lime green snail and even a bear in boots! We wanted to bring smiles to faces passing through the corridor in often stressful circumstances.”
“Installation was well planned and well executed meaning guys left us before 1pm. It took less than 4hrs to install, excellent because we had a very high demand for services and beds. The piece looks great, and there were loads of positive comments during the install.”