Kerrie Lines, a nurse in the theatre unit at the Great Western Hospital, has reacted to the recent publicity about spending on art in hospitals and says there is positive benefit to patient care and recovery from interesting artistic surroundings. She writes:
World-renowned Swindon artist Ken White has completed a substantial amount of work for the GWH and sees the benefits of bringing the community into the hospital through art.
His work for Richard Branson and his Virgin companies has earned acclaim for his now famous murals and paintings.
In early November Ken unveiled his most recent works: two fascinating scenes in the children?s recovery area of the theatre department.
Talking with him as he worked, Ken likened himself to Michelangelo and the painters of old ? painting for the job. Never far from his mind are the people he is painting for ? the community, the patients and the staff.
Describing his motivation, he says, “most of my work is done before I start painting. I have to make sure it is okay because I?m not here everyday, the users are. I do the work cheap because I think it is for a good cause.”
This view lead him to paint ?Coate Water? a colourful mural found at the GWH assisted entrance. “People love it, because they know it,” said Ken. “They know the town as it used to be. It provides a bit of identity when they come in.”
This sense of identity is invaluable to recuperation and health. The benefits of bringing the community into the hospital and breaking down the barriers of illness and health have been documented in medical journals. There has been positive feedback that Ken?s work is succeeding along these lines. The murals stimulate conversation and bring back memories for patients and staff alike.
Likewise two new murals in the children?s recovery area – a beach scene and a mythical castle image, full of hints and references from Swindon – provide a calming atmosphere. They are also a tool that staff can use to distract children from their situation. Reports from recovery staff are already very encouraging.
With hopes of exhibiting his numerous railway images and paintings at the GWH, Ken really is attempting to bring the local community into the hospital through his art.