Tuesday 16th September 2014, Oxford Churchill Hospital, DTU, Cancer Centre I came up to Oxford today to review the installation of the wall-covering artwork along with VGL and the Trust Arts Coordinator, Ruth Charity. The DTU is an oncology & haematology day unit delivering chemotherapy & other cancer related treatments. The staff delivering this service are the most dedicated and hardworking group of people. How they have made time to collaborate and input into this project has been truly brilliant and a pertinent and sharp reminder that projects such as this succeed because of a positive buy in & contribution by staff and stakeholders alike. The work is created around a central core ‘island’ of offices and consulting rooms about which day treatment chemotherapy services are delivered. Most of the chairs and beds face onto this central island, meaning that most patients spend hours at a time over many weeks or even years staring at dull, blank walls, during treatment, rather than out of the windows behind them, which incidentally are too high to see through. A concept approach was developed to change this dull & monotonous view into a contemplative and softly illuminated abstract vista, interrupted by the suggested shadows of overhanging branches and foliage with dappled light breaking through.
Work began to prepare the unit for the installation in March this year. What appears to be a simple case of ‘wallpapering’ a space couldn’t be further from the truth within an environment such as this. Sensitivity to the treatments being carried out within the unit is paramount. The ongoing quality and appearance of the DTU must be considered, even during renovations and repair works. As this is a day treatment unit, weekend working for the specialist contractors from VGL is the only option. This means that the project has to be undertaken over a number of consecutive weekends, which appears to extend the project for longer than it really warrants.
The following images show the first area to be installed. These are not finished images as further works are due to make good the final positioning of furniture and fittings etc.
Many people make up the wider project team. They have to be consulted and become involved to enable the works to happen. This is time consuming stuff and I am so grateful to Ruth Charity, the Arts Co-ordinator for the Oxford University Hospital NHS Trust who has steered this project since the outset, through its fair share of stormy weather ! The staff particularly have been patient and encouraging throughout.
We have been working alongside Carly Birkett, Account Manager at VGL, Reading, who has collaborated extensively on the design production, manufacture and installation planning for the project. By May 2013, we had small scale sample panels produced and installed within the unit in July 2013 for a number of weeks to gain feedback from staff and user groups. Following this period, the detailed design was revised and re-issued for comment.
One issue which arose was that within the confines of the the narrow corridor, the blurred form of the tree had a rather dizzying effect on some people as they tried to focus upon it. We alleviated the problem by layering another transparent image, which was very sharp, onto the surface, which gave the eye a clear object upon which to focus. Hopefully this has addressed the issue.
The three following images are the set of final & approved pdf’s circulated for formal approval. These are the designs which went into production and printing
The final designs were then sampled and full scale sections delivered to the Trust for review and comment. As you can see from the following images, the panels were quite a handful to manage and manoeuvre.
On 5th December 2013, we finally approved the samples panels produced from the detailed production designs. From here on it was all go to set a schedule for print, manufacture and installation.
The art project is currently in production and installation is starting on site this coming weekend.
The project brief described the unit as: “Between 70 -90 patients/day attend the Day Treatment Unit requiring treatment for varying malignancies and benign blood disorders. The treatment regimens (e.g. chemotherapy / blood transfusions) can be complex & lengthy, taking anything from 30 minutes to several hours, with some patients attending twice a week and others once every three weeks. The Day Treatment Unit consists of one long horseshoe-shaped room,accommodating 12 beds & 30 chairs. Currently there is little artwork on the walls and there is little of interest for patients to view. The windows are very high so there is no opportunity for patients to look out and thus no sense of what the weather is like or even what season it is. As a space, which patients visit on a regular basis, it offers little to lift the tedium of repeat visits”.
The aims of the project were :
to create a more welcoming, positive and inviting feel to the Chemotherapy suite;
to create new work that will provide some distraction for patients undergoing treatment;
to create new work that responds to the architecture and interior design of the space and unifies the space;
to create new work that is created with sensitivity to patients and those working in and visiting the department;
to create work that responds to the art programme theme of landscape: bringing the outside in;
to create work that is easy to clean, meets infection control standards and requires little or no maintenance
I have worked at the Cancer Centre previously within the adjacent Chemotherapy Waiting Room, where a large triptych – an architectural glass artwork, originally commissioned for the old Oncology Unit by GBS Architects, had been re-sited successfully as a screen between the patient waiting room and clinical offices and corridor. This work was further enhanced by digitally printed optically clear vinyl installed on all interior glazing panels within the waiting area by VGL Ltd. I will post an archive review of this project in due course under the heading ‘Chemotherapy Waiting Room’.
The DTU project was initiated with a two day residency during which I talked to staff and engaged with patients. The delivery of treatments make this a very sensitive place to observe and great care was taken to be as unobtrusive as possible. There has been an ongoing process of engagement & he staff have been a continual joy to work alongside. Their collective upbeat and supportive collaboration has made this project particularly special for me. The key staff, who smoothed the progress of the project throughout have been: Eliz Flanagan – Lead Chemotherapy Nurse, Jane Skelly – Chemotherapy Specialist Nurse and Moira Cunningham – Sister, Oncology and Haematology Outpatients. Other members of the Champions Group who informed my work & engagement within the department are: Claire Tasker – supporter, Julie Bourchier – former patient & Liz Creak – former patient.
Initially I produced a to-scale model of the interior ‘island’, a cluster of rooms around which I was to base the installation. The idea was to create an interior landscape, or vista which almost felt as though the trees and plants were overhanging the space, creating an abstract misty glade to look into.
We have been working alongside Carly Birkett, Account Manager at VGL, Reading who have collaborated on the design production, manufacture and installation planning for the project. We have had small scale sample panels produced and installed within the unit for a number of weeks to gain feedback from staff and user groups. Following this period, the detailed design was revised and re-issued for comment.