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Men's mental health ward gets 'world class' artwork makeover

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Patients at a men’s mental health unit in London have been working with world class artists to help transform its communal areas, according to a charity that commissions quality artwork for NHS hospitals.

Bluebell Lodge, an inpatient rehabilitation centre that provides long-term care and support for men with complex mental health problems, has received workshops, exhibitions and art work from world class artists.

“The patients spoke with such pride about creating works of art that would be displayed on the ward and in a gallery”

Kathy Bonshor

The charity behind the initiative, Hospital Rooms, said it works to “overcome the severe inequality of opportunity to access arts and creative activity faced by men in long-stay locked mental health units”.

It added that its work makes unit environments more “conducive to recovery” and promotes social interaction, inclusion and connectedness.

For the Bluebell project, the charity worked with an impressive roster of award winning and acclaimed artists, including: Anna Barriball, Rachael Champion, Steve Macleod, Tim A Shaw, Bob & Roberta Smith, Mark Titchner who provided six museum quality artworks for the ward.

In a separate part of the charity’s work with the ward, prize-winning artist, Antony Gormley, also donated a piece to the unit.

On their first visit to the ward, the artists were shown around and introduced to the residents on the ward.

“I felt back in business. Positive vibes to get back to life”

Resident

When the artists visited for a second time, they held a workshop for patients which gave them the opportunity to make their own work and become creative. This included, cyanotypes with Steve Macleod, imaginative 3D models with Rachel Champion and camera obscuras with Anna Barriball, the charity explained.

During the artist’s third trip to the ward, they installed their own artworks on the walls of the communal areas throughout the ward.

At the end of the installation process, an exhibition was then held, across two days, for the patients to display their work created in the workshop.

Residents from Bluebell Lodge were invited to come along and see their work on the walls and enjoy a celebratory lunch with staff, artists and Hospital Room supporters, the charity noted.

The charity highlighted how patients were involved in the whole process of the project and interacted with the artists both while they lead workshops and installed the art.

It said the project “opens up dialogue and creates a huge sense of pride within the unit for patients and staff alike”.

“The best thing about the project was seeing it go from ideas to reality and see it come true”

Resident

According to the charity, staff involved in the project could visibly see the way in which the project affected patients and their recovery.

Dr Kathy Bonshor, clinical psychologist at Bluebell Lodge, said: “I didn’t anticipate the impact the project would have made on the patients’ self-esteem.

“It has been truly heart-warming to see how the patients and artists worked so well together to create the work,” she said.

Dr Bonshor also described how having the opportunity and working with the professional artists had been “so important” to patients.

She said: “The patients spoke with such pride about creating works of art that would be displayed on the ward and in a gallery.

“This was such a confidence boost for them and have them a real sense of value and achievement,” she said. “The project has done more for the patients’ self-worth than we ever could have imagined. And for this I am sincerely grateful.” 

Responses from patients at Bluebell Lodge also highlighted the positive impact of the project, said the charity.

One resident said: “I felt back in business. Positive vibes to get back to life. I felt invigorated. I’ve only touched the surface. It woke me up. Art captures something beautiful that the world can’t destroy. Art is everlasting.”

Another said: “The best thing about the project was seeing it go from ideas to reality and see it come true.”

The project was funded by Arts Council England and Seasalt Cornwall. It was also supported by art manufacturers Colart, which donated all the necessary art materials for the project through their brand Liquitex.

Hospital Rooms was set up just over two years ago by London based couple artist Tim Shaw and curator Niamh White. As of 2019, the charity has a waiting list of over 40 NHS units.

window with tree artwork by anna barriball at bluebell lodge

window with tree artwork by anna barriball at bluebell lodge

Source: Bluebell Lodge

Window with tree artwork by Anna Barriball at Bluebell Lodge

artwork by steve macleod at bluebell lodge

artwork by steve macleod at bluebell lodge

Source: Bluebell Lodge

Artwork by Steve Macleod at Bluebell Lodge

artwork by bob and roberta smith at bluebell lodge

artwork by bob and roberta smith at bluebell lodge

Source: Bluebell Lodge

Artwork by Bob and Roberta Smith at Bluebell Lodge

Artwork by Turner prize-winning Artist Antony Gormley at Bluebell Lodge

Artwork by Turner prize-winning Artist Antony Gormley at Bluebell Lodge

Source: Bluebell Lodge

Artwork by Turner prize-winning Artist Antony Gormley at Bluebell Lodge

rachael champions design for the telephone room

rachael champions design for the telephone room

Source: Bluebell Lodge

Rachael Champion’s design for the telephone room

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