Nightingale Architects have made available some new images of the project at The Whiteleaf Centre, Aylesbury. This particular image is of the large meeting room in the resource centre. The digitally printed artwork manufactured by Guardian is applied to the glazing screen. When the sun is strong, this creates an additional and fleeting, ephemeral extension of the artwork cast in shadow upon the floor and adjacent walls.
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.
Architen Landrell, who manufactured and installed the tensile screen, sent me their project images this week. Some of these I hadn’t seen before, so am now posting for the first time.
They show the fabric installation in progress and the steel frame attached the columns in the Central Concourse. The concept for the work was determined by the need for the fabric to create a privacy screen between the main thoroughfare and hub of the Central Concourse & the clinical corridor which ran adjacent to it, without compromising the architectural space or blocking light.
Text was used as both a textural device and a narrative with which to lead the viewer through the work. Text came from two primary sources. The Hospital provided a great archive through which to trawl. A good deal of this was in the form of written accounts of service by retired staff. The other source was form an ex US Servicemen, Sidney A. Smith MD, who had served as a doctor at Musgrove Park during WWII. His book, A History of Musgrove Military Hospital During World War II and The 67th General Hospital, was a fascinating account of the early years and origins of the Hospital. Sidney Smith had very kindly allowed me access to his photographs & images during my time working a lead artist at Musgrove Park. Some of this text is below: “A Royal Visit by H.M Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother on Thursday, 19th November 1959, was a great occasion for Taunton. The town was gaily decorated, church bells pealed, and, despite the dismal weather forecast, the spirit of the people was at its brightest. Following the reception at the Station, H.M. Queen Elizabeth left for the Musgrove Park Branch of the Taunton & Somerset Hospital, where on arrival, she was presented with a posy of orchids, pink rosebuds and lilies of the valley”. “The 67th General Hospital adopted a banner, which bore images of a Pine tree and a cactus plant to symbolize the Maine contingent of doctors and nurses joined with the enlisted men who were mostly from Texas and Oklahoma”. “We used to have Sunflower competitions at the back of x-ray. Seeds would be planted and ingenious methods of support would be rigged, much to the amusement of both staff and patients”. “From the beginning of my time here we had the National Uniform, classic navy blue for the Sisters and light blue for the Staff Nurses and of course you had your belt, which kept many a waistline under control. We were quick to abandon the paper hats, although the sisters were more reluctant to lose their frilly hats and sleeves. Everyone knew who you were because of the uniform you wore”.
The Central Concourse space has a fantastic timber ceiling detail by Project Architects BDP.
I was commissioned in November 2012 by Tom Cox, ‘Artscape’ Project Manager for Oxford Health, to develop artwork for glazing and walls which could also work as way finding. This was achieved via digital printing onto optically clear vinyl and vinyl wall covering by Guardian Glazing Films and their sub consultant Bonwyke.
The project was influenced by its site history, firstly as a private residence called Manor House and an archive publication from the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies, which listed in detail, the contents of the house & garden from its sale at the turn of the Century. The house & grounds eventually transformed into Manor House Hospital, which was completely demolished for the new build. I was also really intrigued by the Ecological Assessment of the former Hospital site which was produced by Capita Symonds for Kier Build in 2011 which referred to the original seed bank of the site being present still in the spoil heaps of the demolition.
The artworks are presented as a series of interlinked vistas and quiet spaces which carry references to the site through the interior of the building. The images also to the influence that gardens, nature & the natural world has within the understanding and treatment of acute mental health. One of the aims of the new building is to provide gardening opportunities for service users to grow things and to provide quiet outside spaces where people can be surrounded by planting and seasonal change.
The Jubilee Building Central Concourse Project at Musgrove Park Hospital has now completed on site and the new surgical building was fully opened on 7th April 2014.
This art commission was led by Steven Power, Senior Project Manager for Capital Projects at Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton along with Architects BDP and Contractor BAM. Specialist contractors Architen Landrell, Metafab Solutions Ltd and Digital Printers VGL were all integral to the success of the design & production. Bronwen Gwillim, formally Art Co-ordinator of Art for Life at the Hospital initially led the commissioning and early stages of the art project in 2012, and handed over to Lisa Harty in her new role as Arts Co-ordinator to oversee its completion.
The tensile artwork, funded by the Heritage Lottery celebrates the completion of the Jubilee Building as well as commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Hospital originally founded as a US Field Hospital in World War Two. I worked with the Hospital archive and the archivist Louise Donovan as well as bringing my own experience to bear, having been associated with the Hospital for the last 7 years and Lead Artist on a number of projects.