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Friday, 01 July 2016

World Class artists install bespoke artwork

World Class artists install bespoke artwork

South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust has collaborated with the Hospital Rooms art project to commission world class artists to refurbish and create a restorative environment at the Phoenix Unit at Springfield University Hospital in Tooting.

Hospital Rooms is a new initiative co-founded by curator Niamh White and artist Tim A Shaw, who will install museum quality artwork in mental health wards in NHS hospitals around the country.

The launch project took place at the Springfield University Hospital site’s Phoenix Unit – a secure psychiatric rehabilitation residential ward up to 18 patients who have a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

Each of the 10 artists selected were allocated a communal area to renovate, with residents and clinicians giving their suggestions on colours and potential designs.

Landscape architect Joh Bates took on the courtyard after the residents said how vital the space was. Bright orange furniture now invites them outside, with a newly built pagoda offering shelter for them to sit among the freshly potted plants even if it rains.

Marsha, one of the residents, says: "The garden is brilliant because it is tranquil, brand new and the red seats make me feel cheerful."

The Phoenix Unit aims to provide a safe and therapeutic environment, where as well as receiving high quality rehabilitation, patients are encouraged to make choices, express themselves and prepare for independent living. They are provided with a range of occupational therapies and can access physical therapy, dance and movement therapy, music and arts and crafts.  They also have access to psychologists based on the ward. The artists worked collaboratively with consultants, clinicians, occupational therapists and patients to create the artwork.

Dr Emma Whicher, medical director of the trust, says the project is providing people with the opportunity to influence their environment and take part in an exclusive and privileged project regardless of their situation.

"The environment you're in has an impact on your well-being and your feelings on dignity and respect," she says. "Sometimes people with mental health problems experience quite a lot of stigma within the community and this project really values people and says how important it is that they get the wider experiences."

Niamh White, curator and co-founder of the Hospital Rooms art project said:        

“My colleague Tim and I are delighted to be initiating this project with the Trust. Our aim is to enable the creation of artwork that can have a direct and practical social impact. The participating artists have the potential to create art installations that rival presentations in our top London museums whilst at the same time being completely safe and secure for this environment.

Hannah Spreadbury-Troy  is an Occupational Therapist who works on Phoenix Ward. She said that patients have responded in a variety of ways to the artwork.

“Some have directly said to us that they like certain pieces. Others have showed curiosity, others have been observed to be looking at pieces from a distance. We definitely have had people responding creatively, the workshops have really supported that. I think having direct interactions with the artists on the ward has been hugely beneficial and motivational. There is a real gain from having real artists on the ward, people who are not health professionals, real artists interacting with service users artwork, I think is really affirming.”

The project started in January 2016 and will be ongoing until December 2016.

For more information please contact the Communications department on 020 3513 5972 or email

Notes to Editors

  • More information on Hospital Rooms art project and the artists is available at: .

  • South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust (SWLSTG) provides hospital inpatient and outpatient services, social care, community-based services and support to people in their own homes, and in the London boroughs of Wandsworth, Kingston, Richmond, Sutton and Merton.

  • The Trust operates from many locations around south west London and has three main inpatient services.

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