Formalities aside, it was a great day and I was very touched and proud to have been involved in the project . The weather was pretty glorious on the day – so the glazing appeared at its very best., reflecting perfectly off the pool surface and creating the most beautiful backdrop for the day’s events. Positive comments all round was a great sign that the project had been a collaborative & creative success. A massive thanks to Art at the Heart and especially to the efforts of Hetty Dupays, Art and Design Manager and her brilliant team.
Working with David and Richard at Proto Glass Studios is always a delight. What they do is exemplary and they work hard to collaborate in achieving the very best outcome for the artwork and the artist.
My visit to their workshops near Pewsey in Wiltshire on Thursday last week was a catch up on progress after Christmas. I had made a visit previously to this before Christmas along with clients from ‘Art at the Heart’at the RUH, which has still not been posted.
All the glass panels have now been printed & etched. They were then sent away for toughening – a heat process, where the glass is tempered in a furnace to temperatures close to 600 degrees C and then cooled rapidly. Following this process, the glass can be sandblasted with additional layers of detail. Once completed, the panels will finally be made into sealed units for delivery to site and installation.
The architectural glass screens total some 46sqm of glazing. However, the screens are made up of double sealed units – two panels of glass with a gap in-between. This has allowed us to apply decoration to both panes of glass within the same sealed unit. The panel above, for example is 2500mm x 1217mm x 10.8mm. This is the largest size. There are 18 apertures in the North and East screens combined – larger spaces below and smaller spaces above with a double sealed unit in each – so a total of 36 individual panels of glass have been decorated. 18 of this total have also been laminated to another clear pane of glass. Proto have prepared and decorated all of this glass. They have handled of these elements with great skill and care.
Weeding out the stencils following sandblasting.
Weeding-out stencils, cleaning and brushing away, following sandblasting of the ceramic colour screenprint.
Work is now in progress at the brilliant Proto Glass Studios on the first stage of screen printing ceramic colour for of the NORTH SCREEN. We are collaborating with Proto Studios, specialist Architectural Glass Decorators on the production of 46sqm of screen printed, sandblasted & etched architectural glass screens for the new Hydrotherapy Pool & Therapies Unit for the RUH and RNHRD in Bath commissioned by Art at the Heart. The artwork is presented as an abstracted landscape running over both the North & the East Screens of the Pool Room – a way of encapsulating all disparate elements that have inspired my work into something engaging for the viewer, which will changes throughout the day in response to levels of daylight and direct sun.
Both the RUH & RNHRD Hospital sites were originally set in, and adjacent to open fields and expansive views of countryside. Easy to imagine then how beneficial this must have been to those patients and staff who experienced this.
It is now commonly understood that exposure to natural spaces, planting and nature within medical and healing environments is of great benefit and assists in the recovery and positive experience of patients and staff alike .
This landscape is populated with recognisable motifs, such as flowers, deer and trees, woven together with abstracted forms and simple repeating patterns. Local landmarks such as Kelston Round Hill also feature, as do references to the architectural decoration and built heritage of The Min and its archaic Roman Mosaics. However, the most visible motif perhaps is water, and more explicitly, the gestural movement of water as shaped by those taking treatment in the Hydrotherapy Pool. A shape made in water informed by the movement of a hand or leg. Abstractions of steam or mist appear to hover in this landscape. Water is contained within a bowl or pool. An elegant but dynamic abstract splash of water drifts across the whole of the East Screen. The connection to hot springs and flowing waters has shaped Bath into the World Heritage Site we see today.
I was commissioned by Art at the Heart of the RUHin December 2017 to create artwork in response to the architectural glazing in the Hydrotherapy Pool room at the new Therapies Centre for the Royal United Hospital, Bath. These architectural glass panels are floor to ceiling glazed apertures with a combined 46.40 sq m of glass. I am working in collaboration with PROTO GLASS STUDIOS, Architectural Glass Decorators.
The project is being delivered by Kier Construction Ltd with Architects IBI Group
We have also been engaged with a large group of stakeholders, including staff and service users, some of whom have been are lifelong patients at the RNHRD & RUH. This is an ongoing process and we are taking everyone on the journey with us.
“Flow is active. It is not just the water, but it is the way our muscles are warmed and released, allowing blood to flow more freely. It is the freedom from stiffness of joints, when even a centimetre gained is a big triumph. It is active horizontally and not vertically. My spine is fully arthrosed and I cannot turn my head. This is a fundamental problem for AS patients and one of the big exercises in the pool and the gym is trying to turn and look over your shoulder without moving your body. That is flow. It is horizontal”. George Odam RNHRD Lifelong Patient with Ankylosing spondylitis (AS), speaking about his personal journey and experience of hydrotherapy treatment in 2017.
The new RNHRD and BTC will be built close to the main entrance of the Royal United Hospital or RUH; it will be an outpatient centre providing treatment, care and education for patients to recover from episodes of illness or injury, or to manage their long-term condition. The new building will house many of the services currently located at the RNHRD (also known as The Mineral Hospital/ The Min) and the existing RUH therapies and pain management services located in RUH North, under one roof. The Centre will create a centralised and integrated space for staff to work collaboratively, delivering a holistic and patient-centred approach to care.
The Min, as the RNHRD is affectionately known, has a small Medical Museum situated in the Old Chapel. It is a fascinating collection and curated and managed by a small group of dedicated and enthusiastic people, who allowed me access to the photographic Archives. This was very much appreciated.
‘In 2012 the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases [The Mineral Hospital] opened a small museum to showcase their collection. Now, with the imminent closure of the hospital in the centre of Bath, our museum has been granted custody of the Collection of the Min, which includes records dating back to the 1740s, artefacts, the paintings and other pieces of art from around the Hospital, memorabilia, and photographs relating to rheumatology, medicine and pharmacy’.