art in hospitals

Approach corridor by Sasha Ward

Vinyl/glass/vinyl window at Manchester Children’s Hospital: 1800 mm square.

Vinyl/glass/vinyl window at Manchester Children’s Hospital: 1800 mm square.

Sunburst was not the title intended for the piece I have just installed in a white corridor leading to the paediatric mortuary at Manchester Children’s Hospital. However in the record breaking February sunshine this week and framed by the corrugated sides of the hospital building outside, it glows like a gentle star. As you can see in the photo below left, dramatic shadows and colours are cast on to the floor - surely the best thing about stained glass. Evidently I hadn’t dared imagine the effect would be so good as the collage of my design on to the photo of the space shows (below right).

Left: Feature window at the entrance to the paediatric mortuary. Right: Photomontage of the same space.

Left: Feature window at the entrance to the paediatric mortuary. Right: Photomontage of the same space.

This feature window is part of a commission for artworks in the series of rooms that make up the mortuary. It was almost two years ago when I designed the work following consultation with staff and bereaved families and to a brief that asked for the artwork to be abstract, with no representational imagery and using gentle colours and shapes. Last month I wrote about the colour scheme and the door vision panels; there will be more on the wall designs (digitally printed wallpaper), wall panels and viewing windows when the new furniture arrives to complete the rooms later on.

Below is a page of sketches showing the development of the design for the feature window. I was concerned about working with - rather than fighting against - the horizontal bars and not blocking the wonderful view.

12 sketches showing development of the design

12 sketches showing development of the design

Window detail: vinyl on the left in this picture.

Window detail: vinyl on the left in this picture.

The feature window is made up of a hefty piece of laminated and toughened printed glass (2500 x 780 x 17mm) flanked by two pieces of printed transparent vinyl applied to the surface of the existing window. I hadn’t tried this combination up against each other before, and was apprehensive that the colours on the vinyl would look weak against the sparkling enamels on the glass. But they compliment each other well, the white/shadows are just as strong, and the pattern cast on the floor is colourful but subtle.

floorsm.jpg

Colour sequence by Sasha Ward

This is part of a project I have been doing in the paediatric mortuary at Manchester Childrens’ Hospital. Over the past two years I have designed artworks for a suite of five rooms following extensive consultation with bereaved parents and hospital staff and negotiated with manufacturers and the hospital estates department to get the works, made of vinyl and glass, installed.

Vinyl detail:  Double doors leading to the mortuary:  Locked doors in the corridor

Vinyl detail: Double doors leading to the mortuary: Locked doors in the corridor

The overall scheme is now starting to come together with new colours on the walls and coloured vinyl on the door vision panels. These make an impact that is much larger than their size and help you find your way through the maze of windowless rooms that make up this backwater of the hospital building. The design on the vinyl is simple, the complicated part is the layered printing so that one half of each panel is translucent and the other is opaque i.e. a colour printed over a white layer. In the detail shown above left the blue is opaque and the yellow is translucent therefore it glows as you approach the double doors to the (badly sign posted) mortuary. In the next part of the corridor there is a pair of locked doors so the vinyl on these has a different design that is totally opaque - attractive but hopefully uninviting (above right).

Entrance door:  Babies’ room door: Children’s room door with room light on and off

Entrance door: Babies’ room door: Children’s room door with room light on and off

The main pattern is ordered, simple and gentle rather than geometric and rigid. The entrance door to the waiting area is green/blue, this leads to the babies’ room (blue/yellow) and the children’s room (yellow/green)- all shown above. The back door of the babies’ room is also blue/yellow but with the translucent and opaque sides reversed, while the back of the children’s room is blue/pink - all shown below. When the light behind the door is off you can see the colour on the opaque part of the design, while the translucent part appears very dark. This is a technique I have borrowed from my glass designs where I use textured opaque areas so that some colour is visible in a variety of light conditions. So far I’m happy with the installation which is still in progress - the colours are spot on.

Door at back of babies’ room with lights on and off: Back of children’s room

Door at back of babies’ room with lights on and off: Back of children’s room

New glass by Sasha Ward

In 2011 Yeovil District Hospital refurbished the Haematology and Oncology Department and asked me to design various artworks spread throughout the suite of treatment, consultation and waiting rooms. They are printed on a variety of materials; transparent window vinyl, vinyl wallpaper, fabric for screens and paper for wall boxes. 2018 has brought a second refurbishment and more opportunities for my work in the new department.

Digitally printed vinyl wallpaper outside consultation room and in waiting corridor.

Digitally printed vinyl wallpaper outside consultation room and in waiting corridor.

I find revisiting old commissions nerve wracking - have they stood the test of time and do people, including me, really like them? What I liked on this revisit was my design, based on wavy lines and filled in with peaceful colours, that links all the different artworks (above). The wallpaper still looks good on the corridor walls, although I wish Dr. Bolam would put his board elsewhere. I particularly like the corridor wall where you can see the waves starting with a shallow curve at the bottom where they hug the crash rail and swelling with life as the curve increases towards the ceiling. 

Design for entrance wall, digital wallpaper and glass square: glass sample in progress

Design for entrance wall, digital wallpaper and glass square: glass sample in progress

The wavy lines were the basis for the new work, but this time I pulled them apart and upside down so they float around in a looser formation. There is more wallpaper, some printing on acrylic and even some glass panels. The design flows across these different materials (above left), in the middle the glass square glows with backlit colour (below right). It was so exciting actually making some glass for a change, see the sample with layers of vivid colour on the sandblasted surface (above right). As usual, the sample was a quite different colour from the real thing. I opened the kiln (below left) and marvelled at the fantastic, luscious pink surface - just one firing! 

Glass square in the kiln after firing: during installation in the newly papered entrance wall.

Glass square in the kiln after firing: during installation in the newly papered entrance wall.

Detail of the finished glass square (575 x 575 mm).

Detail of the finished glass square (575 x 575 mm).

The second glass panel was for a screen in the waiting area. I made this piece over a weekend - every process went smoothly including installation and admiration. In the design for this one, and by the way the design takes far longer than the manufacture, I took out the wavy lines one by one until only two remained to link this artwork to the others.

Design for glass insert in screen: finished glass panel photographed in studio: glass installed in waiting room screen

Design for glass insert in screen: finished glass panel photographed in studio: glass installed in waiting room screen

Detail through screen, showing hand cut, painted and printed detail in transparent enamels.

Detail through screen, showing hand cut, painted and printed detail in transparent enamels.