Tag Archives: Geology

Dorset County Hospital – the new Cancer Unit Glazing Artwork

Image: Draft artwork with re-imagined stones by Christopher Tipping 2018

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 HospitalsMy 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.

Image: Christopher Tipping- Jurassic Coast Dorset 2008

Image: Christopher Tipping- Display Box of Microfossils, Dorset County Museum 2008

Image: Found objects and natural abstractions for Dorset County Hospital Cancer Unit by Christopher Tipping

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’.


The following text was taken from the 2018 project brief by Alex Murdin, Arts Manager, Arts in Hospital, at Dorset County Hospital.

‘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 Trust and with a major legacy from the photographer Robert White, a local man who died from cancer in 2015′. 

Image: Draft Artwork for Dorset County Hospital Cancer Unit by Christopher Tipping

Image: Draft Artwork – Found & re-imagined stones for Dorset County Hospital Cancer Unit by Christopher Tipping

Image: Draft artwork for Dorset County Hospital Cancer Unit by Christopher Tipping



‘1479 plates’, Combe Down Stone Mines 2009

In December 2008 I was commissioned, along with a number of other artists, to respond to the Combe Down Stone Mines Stabilisation Project, which was nearing completion after a 10 year ambitious and ground-breaking engineering-led programme.

The Combe Down Stone Mines Project was a major project undertaken by Bath & North East Somerset Council to stabilise abandoned limestone mine workings in the village of Combe Down and preserve the Health & Safety of the area. The aim of the Project was to remove the current threat to life and property of those living, working in and travelling through the Combe Down area. Collapse of the old mines, which in some instances, lay just metres beneath the surface, was a real possibility. In doing this, the Project ensured that the internationally recognised heritage, wildlife and environmental properties of the area were conserved for future generations.

The Combe Down Stone Mines Stabilisation Project was finally completed in 2010, with 25 hectares of very shallow limestone mines flooded with approximately 600,000 cubic metres of foamed concrete, the largest project of its kind in the world. Over the preceding 200 years some 700 houses had been built over the mines from which the stone was extracted to build Georgian Bath.

The project site of Combe Down, a village on the outskirts of Bath, falls within the World Heritage Site of Bath.

Publicity draft invitation to The Octagon installation and artist talk. Image: Christopher Tipping


The arts project team was managed and led by Art Consultants Frances Lord and Steve Geliot. “To celebrate the end of the Combe Down Stone Mines Stabilisation Project the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) granted £250K funding for commissioning public art. The Combe Down Public Art Project was the result of two years of activity, events, residencies and commissions”. Frances Lord

‘1479 plates’ Art Budget: £54,000.00

 Client:Bath & North East Somerset Council funded by the Homes and Communities Agency, formerly English Herirage. https://www.homesandcommunities.co.uk/combe-down-stone-mines

Agencies: Project Managers: Provelio. Main Contractors: Hydrock & Scott Wilson Specialist Consultants: Oxford Archaeology, ‘Autonomatic’ & Digital Ceramic Systems, Stoke on Trent.


There is an interesting and informative film about the work Hydrock did on this project by following this link.


Combe Down Stone Mines. Early test samples of Bone China Plates with Combe Down artwork. Image: Christopher Tipping


Combe Down Stone Mines. Early test samples of Bone China Plates with Combe Down artwork. Image: Christopher Tipping



Draft design for the ceramic transfer back stamp applied to the bone china plates. Image: Sarah Alldritt

A 21st Century Miner greeting a 19th Century Stone Miner. Archaeologists found a single bone of the Hare whilst excavating & recording the stone mines – ‘probably someone’s lunch!’. The leek represents the 21st Century mine workers who mostly came from South Wales.


‘1479 plates’ installation at The Octagon, Bath, 2009. Image: Kevin Fern


Exterior of The Octagon, Bath

Exterior of The Octagon, Bath


A selection of images from the Combe Down Stone MInes Project. Image: Christopher Tipping



Postcard invitation to The Octagon installation and artist talk. Image: Christopher Tipping


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'1479 plates' at The Octagon, Bath. November 2009

‘1479 plates’ at The Octagon, Bath. November 2009


Invitation to collect your bone china plate following the exhibition and project completion. Image: Christopher Tipping


One of 788 Bone China plates produced for the installation.

One of 788 Bone China plates produced for the installation.


'1479 plates', The Octagon, Bath. Private View.

‘1479 plates’, The Octagon, Bath. Private View.   Image by ZED.


The installation work ‘1479 plates’, was exhibited at The Octagon, an 18th Century Chapel in Bath,  and featured a map of 788 bone china dinner plates , which explores the relationship between present day engineering and mining technology, stone mines heritage, archaeology, natural history, and two 18th Century entrepreneurs of the English Enlightenment, Ralph Allen and Josiah Wedgwood. The work was created in collaboration with ‘Autonomatic’ – 3D Digital Research Cluster at University College Falmouth. The plates were displayed on a curving monolithic wall, redolent of the architectural terraces in Bath, built with the stone from the mines. The exhibition was constructed and managed by REM, Richmond Event Management.


The local community was widely consulted and was from the outset a supportive and creative project champions group, attending meetings and contributing significantly to the outcome of the works. I often stayed with local families, which was a very engaging way of collaborating away from the formal meetings and group sessions.  
C. map with animals e

The image above is an A0 size print made to commemorate the project which has the names of all the Miners employed by Hydrock who worked on and contributed to the Combe Down Stone Mines Stabilisation Project. Printed by Digital Arte.

Portraits of Hydrock Miners working on the Combe Down project. Image: Christopher Tipping


A proposal to print a limited edition of artworks to commemorate the project. Image: Christopher Tipping


A collection of plates from the 788 which made up the installation.

A sample collection of plates from the 788 individual units, which made up the installation.  Image: Portia Wilson

691 households affected by the stabilisation works were gifted a ceramic plate – one small part of the map – representing not only the individual household but the mining underworld beneath it. Following their display at The Octagon, the original 788 dinner plates were donated to form a large scale permanent installation in Combe Down village at some point in the future.

Publicity about the Combe Down project. Bath Chronicle, July 9th 2009. Image: Combe Down Project Office


A Celebration Poster design by Peter Brawne for the major community event, which saw the completion of the project. Image: Peter Brawne