Drafts and sketches for the digitally printed glazing vinyl artwork for the ground floor Radiotherapy Unit of the Robert White Cancer Centre are now in progress in the studio. At this stage, the drafts are for comment and discussion and the final design work will be tailored in response to this process.
Inspired by Jurassic plant fossils, such as Cycads, Tree Ferns, Magnolias, Monkey Puzzle and Gingko, the ideas are developing by way of a distinct colour palette and abstract pattern-making too, as well as looking to incorporate and blend in with the glazing artworks of the Outpatient Unit on the first floor, which were completed late in December 2018. Although the two floors deliver independent services via Poole Hospital and Dorset County Hospitals, it is important that from the outside particularly, the artwork links the two floors and presents a united front elevation to all those visiting & working on this site. The Jurassic Coastand the Abbotsbury Sub-Tropical Gardens, have both been influential. The coastal geology has been a particular fascination, with stones and fossils being very much the theme of the first floor Outpatients department.
Above: Bespoke inlaid flooring with a Surgeon’s leg.
I have worked at Dorset County Hospital on two previous occasions, both memorable. My association with the Trust and its Arts in Hospital Team goes back to 1993, some 26 years! This recent visit to start a new project for the Radiotherapy Unit at the recently completed Robert White Centre, was quite poignant, because I made a concerted effort, whilst there to re-connect and revisit two commissions I had previously created for the Hospital, in 1993 and 2009 respectively. I have deliberately not looked back at the files for these projects, in fact I am not sure I still have the 1993 project on record. That was definitely pre-digital.
Interesting to see things again – unplanned and in the moment and experience them anew.
The Dog Courtyard at Dorset County Hospital seen through rain spattered windows on a bad weather day. I couldn’t access the courtyard directly yesterday due to the weather. The bronze dog is by Dame Elisabeth Frink, who I was extremely privileged to meet at her home in Blandford Forum in 1992, when I was taken there by my commissioner Val Pitt-Rivers, the founder of Arts in Hospital and a great friend of Elisabeth’s. Elisabeth Frink died in 1993. The courtyard was designed and created around this beautiful sculpture and was loosely based upon a roman villa garden.
‘In 1987, the Vice Chairman of the hospital, Val Pitt-Rivers, started Arts in Hospital with the help of a few friends. Since her retirement in 1998 she has continued to support us as an active patron. Her first committee was responsible for some of our most iconic artworks such as the Red & Blue Crayons by Peter Logan and the Dog by Dame Elisabeth Frink, a founder patron of Arts in Hospital.
After the opening of Phase 1 of the new Dorset County Hospital in 1987, the internal courtyards became the main focus of the arts project. The first to be completed was the Waterfall Courtyard by the sculptor Hamish Horsley. Soon after followed the courtyard to house Elisabeth Frink’s Dog, which was designed by artist Christopher Tipping, and then the Bird Garden designed by John Hubbard with stone fragments engraved by Richard Grasby’. Arts in Hospital
I love to see the lichens growing everywhere…a sign of age…as well as the Box and Bamboo topiary, maintained as cubes as per the original design.
The Hospital Streets project was completed in 2009 & was commissioned by the then director of Arts in Hospital, Alexandra Coulter.
The project was focussed on colour and wayfinding over three floors of the hospital, with the inspiration coming from two days spent walking & exploring along the Jurassic Coastand another day buried deep in the archives of the Dorset County Museum fossil collections. We collaborated with Tarkett flooring and created bespoke motifs which were inlaid at key points along the Hospital Streets such as lift lobbies and stairs. The work is now almost 10 years old and still looks remarkably fresh considering the heavy traffic.
Hospital Streets Project at Dorset County Hospital completed 2009. Tarkett vinyl flooring with bespoke inlaid motifs & assorted hospital legs. Image: Christopher Tipping 2019
Some years ago a long standing family friend and close friend of my Dad was being treated for cancer. He and his wife had often been to Elgol on the shores of Lock Skavaig on the Isle of Skye. They loved this place. I too had been there and as is the case – and now slightly frowned upon – I picked up some stones from a stream bed. The stones were small, but smooth & beautifully polished to a honed satin finish by the action of water. They could be held in the hand and moved around. The feeling of them was somehow special and resonant. I still have them now, wrapped in a cloth bag for fear of damaging them. I sent one of these stones to Dad’s friend. In doing that I think we had a non verbal conversation at distance about place and memories. I like to think it was re-assuring for both of us.
I have always picked up stones. They represent something unique about place, time and experience. Geology is fascinating.
I live by the sea in Ramsgate on the Kent Coast. I walk on the beach most days. I have found many sea urchin fossils. Each has a unique story. Each stone can still trigger memories of where and when it was found, what the weather was like…was the tide in or out.
I have created work for several projects with Cancer treatment centres at a number of Hospitals, including Churchill Hospital Cancer Centre, Oxford and a Macmillan Cancer unit for Tameside General Hospital. At Tameside Hospital and found my inspiration on a 12 mile walk entitled “Journeys through the Landscapes of Tameside” – this walk eventually became the brief for the project.
Stewart Ramsden, my walking partner who compiled the walk, had also been a cancer patient at the hospital and was part of our project’s champion group. Our route was eventually described by an eccentric figure of eight. Wild Bank and Hollingworthall Moor from Godley – a 12 mile walk through town, suburb, farmland and moorland.
The following words were made from my notes on the day:
This is a walk
A meander, a physical experience or just maybe a day-dream
A walk is more often along a path
The path or footpath changes in colour, texture and topography –
but there is always a remembered route to follow or a map to guide you
or maybe a venture to somewhere new
There is a constancy in moving forward
Things seen on a walk are half experienced and half remembered
A vivid green hedge
A tyre track
A discarded toy
A cloud which looks like a tree, a stream which looks like silver, a flash of colour
Horizon merges with sky
This is a landscape with no fixed perspective
Sky reflected in water
A small stone becomes a boulder
An object picked up and carried in the hand along the way
Track marks in fields are gestural and dynamic
Distant buildings become a child’s building blocks
The layersPatterns in brickwork
Our project for the new Radiotherapy Unit at Dorset Hospitalwas similarly inspired by a walk along the Jurassic CoastI made ten years ago. I was hoping to find myself an ammonite to take home. I didn’t find any, but I saw many encased in rock by the shore. I saw the Blue Lias beds that contain giant plesiosaur fossils. The layers are like drawers in time. Each opening to another world and perhaps another wonder. I was also allowed free time to spend in the Dorset Museum Archives amongst boxes and drawers and piles of specimen stones and fossils. The way these objects were carefully curated and stored – often in intricate patterns and collections of similar sizes and or type. was inspiring and reminded me of my collections at home and of how precious they are to me. The artwork has grown out of this fascination. The stones I have created are imaginary in colour and pattern, although informed by nature. They are perhaps stones I would like to find. Stones I would hold in my imagination to remind me of journeys I have made and places I have been.
We have now had the approval and sign off on the artwork proposals following a recent meeting with key Staff and stakeholders this week. The deadline is looming. The new building opens on 12th December. The work has to be manufactured and installed before this date.
To create the digital work each element requires up to 3 copies of each shape. One blank, one black & white and one in colour. The black & white originals are a mix of hand drawn motifs and textures, which are then scanned and worked on in Photoshop. I create a series of related shapes and masks, which I can then combine with larger patterns, often in repeat.Colours are added at this stage. I will often scan objects such as found paper or leaves and work on them digitally. I take too many images in the street, of shapes of water on the pavement – or reflections in windows – or a small plant growing in a crack in the ground or on a wall. All these can trigger an idea for a pattern or story.
I have been commissioned to create artwork to be digitally printed onto optically clear vinyl for the external glazing of the new Cancer Unit at Dorset County Hospital. Dorset’s pioneering new cancer unit is under construction and is due to be delivered in 2018. It is being built and operated jointly by Poole and Dorset Hospitals. My approach has been framed by a research trip I made back in June 2008 to the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site and to Dorchester Museums Archive Collections and the Natural History Museum in London.
Ten years ago I created artwork for wayfinding and inlaid bespoke floor coverings for the corridors of the main hospital buildings and also for Maiden Castle House, which provides Psychiatric Services for the Trust. This original body of work, completed in 2010 was considered a resonant starting point for this new project in 2018 and has been instrumental in underpinning the artwork created for the Cancer Unit.
Alex Coulter, former Arts Manager, Arts in Hospital writing in 2008 said –
‘The artist, Chris Tipping, researched and recorded geological structures, fossils and land forms along the Jurassic coast as the basis for his designs. He made drawings on the coast and in Dorset County Museum’s collections and talked to geologists based at Southampton University to help inform his ideas. Chris was interested in the idea that the floors in the hospital could be interpreted as the layers or strata of the coast with fossil like patterns embedded in them and fragments and elements emerging where different layers meet. They are inlaid into the floor at key areas such as lift thresholds and at the top of staircases to help with wayfinding while smaller elements break up long expanses of corridor. It was Chris’s idea to curve the edges of the flooring and to reveal sections of designs rather as you might see a fragment in the cliff. The technology used is sophisticated with laser cutting creating elements which fit together with no need for sealant in-between. His designs enliven what would otherwise be vast expanses of plain flooring and contribute to making the hospital environment more stimulating and appealing for patients – a healing environment’.
‘Initial consultation with patients and staff suggested that the theme of the Cancer Unit artworks should evolve around nature and light, “Letting in the Light”. Medical and psychological evidence is strong that natural images, textures, patterns and light are all beneficial for wellbeing and recovery . Contact with Nature has been reported to have psychological benefits by reducing stress, improving attention, by having a positive effect on mental restoration, and by coping with attention deficits.
Natural light is important to healing and wellbeing and patients with views of open spaces get better faster. As the views from the new Cancer Unit will be limited to other hospital buildings and urban Dorchester, art can provide an alternative view for patients through translucent imagery of landscape and natural forms on windows. The window vinyls must in any case screen off views of the interior from outside by passers-by and occupiers of adjacent buildings, as necessary for patient’s actual and perceived privacy and confidentiality without the need for blinds and the accompanying loss of light’.
Dorset’s pioneering new cancer unit is under construction and due to be delivered in 2018 is being built and operated jointly by Poole and Dorset Hospitals. It will deliver world class health care for our local communities. The project will develop cancer facilities for patients all across Dorset and bring radiotherapy services to Dorchester for the first time. The new facilities will be life-changing, particularly for people who have previously had to travel long distances for radiotherapy services in Poole.
The unit will serve people of all ages, who have been diagnosed with cancer as well as their families. Patients who use this service are likely to be distressed and for some people, they may be living with a terminal diagnosis. The unit will be home to new linear accelerators (LINAC) – the device most commonly used for external beam radiation treatments for patients with cancer. It will be a multi-functional space offering life changing radiotherapy, consulting rooms and counselling rooms. The unit will also be used by support groups. The unit is being funded Dorset County Hospital Charity, Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust(DCHFT), Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trustand with a major legacy from the photographer Robert White, a local man who died from cancer in 2015′.