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Art at the Heart of the RUH

Artsparks|2011/12 The Children’s Ward Project

Art Sparks is Art at the Heart of the RUH Children’s Ward project, co-funded by Arts Council England and also supported by the Bath Galleries Group, which brings a series of regular creative workshops to the RUH Children’s Ward. Introduction.......................................................................... Cold Places........................................................................... Face Britain.......................................................................... The Mask Workshop............................................................. The Bed Olympics................................................................ Spring Meadow Project...................................................... The Reassurance Project.................................................... Tree Of Life........................................................................... Animate Me!........................................................................ The Young Emerging Artist Gallery..................................... Evaluation............................................................................. With Special Thanks.............................................................

1 2-3 4-5 6-7 8-9 10-11 12-13 14-15 16-17 18-19 20-24 25

Introduction Art at the Heart of the RUH Children’s Ward Project: Artsparks

Artsparks sees children and their families create imaginative artworks in response to different themes throughout the year. Art Sparks aim is to create a colourful and positive environment for all patients, family and staff. The intention is to keep creating new projects which challenge the participants, but also to provide a safe and supportive environment for each individual, so that they can use their imagination and develop their own ideas.


Cold Places

Inspired by Sue Flood’s exhibition and the popular BBC series - Frozen Planet

This first exhibition was inspired by images from the popular Sue Flood’s Cold Places exhibition, which took place on the central corridor and coincided with the BBC Frozen Planet show that was also on at the time. Children were aware of this show and enjoyed the imagery. Artist-in-residence Edwina Bridgeman facilitated the workshops along with visiting artists; Charlotte Stowell, Claire Day and Sophie Lowe. Each artist brought in materials and inspirational objects to each session and set up the playroom and trays, which were carried to the children in bed.


All projects were tailor made to suit individuals’ needs and children benefited from these workshops as they learn new skills and work with a variety of exciting art materials. The artwork was then displayed on the ward and in the dedicated Children’s Corridor Gallery and received many positive comments.

“A great opportunity to make things with a difference. Took our mind off why we were here. Thank you”



Face Britain

Queen’s Jubliee ‘Face Britain’ Project

Some of the workshops take their inspiration from the exhibitions along the main corridors, such as Sue Flood Cold Places. Others relate to seasonal and current events such as Face Britain this summer. Children created several of their own self-portraits for The Queens Jubilee ‘Face Britain’ project. Over 200 000 self-portraits were submitted to Face Britain. These were projected onto Buckingham Palace in a unique image of HM The Queen. Many of the children benefit from these workshops as they provide a distraction from their clinical stay; they learn new skills and work with a variety of exciting art materials.


The Mask Workshop Fun and games in the School Room


Not all the work created in the workshops is destined for the gallery. Sometimes work is made that will lead into other areas of play. The mask making workshop was one such project. The children were invited to transform the large paper bags into masks. Through the process of drawing, cutting and sticking they created animals and monsters which led into imaginary play and the making of animals in clay. Some children went on to make drawings of their small sculptures.


Bed Olympics Celebrating the Olympic Games 2012 with specially designed workshops

Bringing the Olympics to the children’s ward, artist Charlotte Stowell worked with children on the ward creating games that can be played in bed or in the playroom. The children enjoyed making fishing games, cardboard skittles and marbles as well as designing medals made from a variety of materials including polymer clay and awarding them to each other. The Bed Olympics project was funded by BANES Cultural Olympic Micro Grant.


“Fantastic Fun! Thank you, my daughter wanted to stay another night� 9

Spring Meadow Project Highlighting the beauty that is our natural meadows

In-line with artist in residence Edwina Bridgeman’s exhibition ‘The Edge of Enchantment’ at the Thelma Hulbert Gallery in Devon, and to highlight the growing concern that we have lost 90% of our wild meadows since the 1940’s and the importance they play in terms of pollination and the environment the children created 2D and 3D meadows from recycled paper, card, net, string and paint.


With visiting artist Charlotte Stowell the children made flowers, birds and butterflies from fimo that was incorporated into the meadow scenes. Placed amongst the flowers were additional small characters and animals made from masking tape and newspaper. The project provided fantastic inspiration for the animation project, which ran alongside the children’s workshops and was a great opportunity for the children to be involved in a crossover of projects and disciplines.

“Ella and I had lots of fun

painting together, it’s not often we get to do such a simple & wonderful activity”


The Reassurance Project A positive and valuable site specific workshop

This project was developed to replace existing work on the ward. As a site specific piece it was felt to be valuable for the children to think about the positive experiences of hospital enabling them to leave messages of hope and encouragement to subsequent children. The children created characters from wooden spoons and hole punched card. The card was an excellent embroidery surface, and it has been widely acknowledged that the repetitive nature of knitting and sewing is calming and very beneficial in a hospital setting. The spoons were dressed in a variety of scraps including off - cuts of Mulberry leather from the scrap store. The children thought about their experiences on the ward, what was good, and what would be helpful for future visitors to know. All the children wrote their messages which I then transcribed on to perspex speech bubbles which were mounted next to each character. Each figure was playful and welcoming.

“Fantastic workshops, just what Charlie needed to pass the time� 12


The Tree of Life Responding to existing artwork in and around the hospital Over the year many children spoke about the aerial sculpture ‘Journey’ in the atrium. It is a large boat traveling through the air that Artist in Residence Edwina Bridgeman made from found objects. The materials fascinated the children and it was agreed it would make an excellent project to create a new piece of artwork using the same technique and style. The theme ‘Tree of Life’ was decided and artist Edwina Bridgeman built and brought in a tree, which was created from found timbers, brushes ad pallets. The children were then invited to create things to fill the branches. Understandably the children wanted to make things of personal significance.


Several of the boys made their favorite toys, a meer cat and a teddy bear whilst others made themselves or a parent. Some just chose found objects that they wanted to include. All the children used battery drills and pliers in the process, many clearly delighted to have the opportunity. The children and their families realised that it is possible to communicate strength of feelings in a simplistic yet powerful way. Transforming objects is uplifting and has a special resonance in a hospital setting.

The Tree of Life 15

Animate Me! Artsparks Animation Project in partnership with Suited & Booted Studios CIC This Project was designed by patients on the Adolescent Unit at the RUH and young people who are supported by the hospital through the Home Education and Re-integration Service (HERS). Supported by animator-in-residence Elle Farnham, from renowned animation company Suited and Booted, the young people would not only have creative input through storytelling and character and narrative design but would also direct the films, lead workshops, edit, create audio input and organise a screening in the hospital. Animation can offer a varied way to create stories that can be built around their own interests and abilities. They felt that using a range of media would make this project accessible for all the patients who do not have hand coordination, or freedom to move from their beds or who are visually impaired.


Animate Part One was Funded by First Light Media Productions and Part Two funded by Bath and North East Somerset Council Youth Enablement Fund.

“The beauty of animation is the

ability to play, you can make anything come alive which is very exciting and magical”

Left: Overtan by Ellen (16), below Opposite Page, Top to Bottom: A Poem For Spring - Debbie (16), Olympic Show Reel, Ward Show Reel.

Animation on Prescription, Bristol Presented by the College of Occupational Therapist Specialist Section: Mental Health in partnership with Animated Encounters and Animation Therapy. We were invitied by Helen Mason, Director of Animation Therapy to present our project Animate Me at the one day study event at the Arnolfini, Bristol in September. The event, which featured keynote speaker David Sproxton CBE, Co-founder of Aardman Animations as well as a host of leading occupational therapists and artists explored the use of animation in health and social care.

“This workshop has been

invaluable to us during my son’s stay in hospital, thank you”

Watch our films online: 17

Young Emerging Artist Gallery A showcase gallery for young talented artists

Responding to the fantastic artistic talent we have on the children’s ward and within the local community, Art at the Heart of the RUH have donated part of the central corridor gallery as a showcase for talented young artists.

Above: Joshua James Photograohy Exhibition Opposite Page: Joshua James, Will Beck (2)


The gallery’s first exhibitor Joshua James spent time at the Royal United Hospital Bath just before Christmas 2011 recovering form a collapsed lung. While at the hospital he took a keen interest in the works of art on display in the corridors and was very excited to be asked to take part in the initiative. Diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), Joshua finds his photography lessons helps him to concentrate and focus on the detail in his everyday life.

Continuing the high quality programme is Will Beck who exhibited a series of digital manipulated photographs inspired by contemporary film like Scorse’s Shutter Island. Will won an Arts Council England bursary aged 15 to work with photographer Johnathon Lee and digital arist Al Pagan for his work to gain momentum. His work mirrors and distorts original photographs, playing with the viewer with a series of visual tricks and graphic imagery.


Artsparks Evaluation

Special thanks to Illustrator Maggie Cousins & Designsimple - Luke Bizios

The aim of the project: To deliver high quality art workshops to children and their families on the children’s ward at the Royal United Hospital Bath. To establish a gallery space within the hospitals main corridors to show children’s work.


Art sparks has been running on the children’s ward at the hospital for the past year. It has been funded by; Arts Council England, BANES, NADFAS: The National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies and supported by Bath Galleries Group - Art Auction 2011.

What Worked Well... Evaluation by Artist in Residence Edwina Bridgeman

Alongside work made for the ward, children were invited to create characters from spoons and hole punched card with perspex speech bubbles leaving positive messages for subsequent children. We have also made a ‘Tree of Life’, families created figures and animals with a personal relevance to be attached to a tree made from found timber, discarded pallets and paint brushes.

The project has been very successful with 100% positive feedback from users. The original aim to establish a children’s gallery within the hospital has been achieved to great acclaim. Children and families have taken part in inspiring and original workshops led by professional artists using Creating the tree was a particularly popular different techniques and materials and the ward workshop and on reflection I realised that the is being transformed with new artworks. most popular and successful workshops were those that involved transformation. Creating To date there have been three major exhibitions something from humble, found materials fires the in the gallery space: imagination. Transforming materials establishes an idea that ‘anything is possible’ .The children ‘Cold Places’ the children responded to Sue transform their environment and spirits.This is Floods photographic work of the Antarctic. Using manifest in pictures on walls , sculptures on materials from Bristol’s scrap store they created bedside cabinets and traction beds mixed media collage and a large boxed piece becoming installations! This creativity seeps out with fimo animals. of the ward and down corridors. Art sparks has raised the general profile of art within the hospi‘Face Britain’ A series of self portraits, part of the tal and adds to a sense of wellbeing. Diamond Jubilee celebrations. The images were downloaded and eventually projected onto Collaborations between children and their Buckingham Palace. families are particularly special and necessary “Meadow’ Was a response to the artist in residences touring exhibition ‘Edge of Enchantment’. The children created a 3 dimensional meadow exhibited in recycled wine cases from newspaper and masking tape, withies, buttons and paint.

in hospital. Everyone is glad of a diversion. The joy of spending time together with a common aim is highlighted during workshops and families often take materials and ideas away with them. Families are far less anxious when engaged in a creative activity. It has been very significant for the children that their work is valued and shared. 21

Space, Materials & Numbers...

Space: The playroom is an excellent working space, children feel welcome and it is easy for them to dip into and out of activities. It is sometimes more difficult to get teenage boys to the playroom but they will join in the workshops from bed. Materials: Materials have lasted longer and been used more productively since being stored in a dedicated space. All ‘scrap’ materials left at the end of a project have been removed as requested. The play specialists let me have a list of what they need before each visit to the scrap store. To improve the situation even further it would be good to invite the play specialists to the scrap store, to encourage their own ideas and emphasise the importance of decent materials. Good quality materials make the children feel valued. 22

Participating Numbers: We reached significant numbers of patients and families, averaging around 12 per workshop. Everyone is welcome to join in. A group of medical students have expressed an interest in doing a workshop. I think it might be mutually helpful to offer a workshop to hospital staff as an introduction to what we are doing. It would be a one off event, fun and accessible.

12 x 60 + 150 + 54 = 924 12 - Average number of children per workshop 60 - Number of workshops from Oct 11 - Sept 12 150 - Number of parents and carers that participated 54 - Animate Me participants

22, 000 Artsparks Gallery Audience Per Year

Outcomes & Areas for Improvement... Excellent work has been produced. It is often pointed out that children don’t get the time they need to engage creatively at school. Often work is over prescribed, on the ward the children have enjoyed the freedom to produce their own work in a non judgmental setting. The children are usually very proud of their work and there have been issues about taking work home or leaving it for the gallery. We resolved this by inviting the children to create two pieces of work and choosing which to take and which to leave.

Areas for improvement: To establish regular meetings which all involved attend to share ideas and keep lines of communication open.

Working in weekly blocks has proved more successful than fortnightly morning sessions. Projects gather momentum, work is not diluted because energy and enthusiasm are maintained. It is easier for ward staff to be involved when the workshops are less ‘bitty’. It would be good if subsequent funding could be for blocks of workshops. One whole week in every four would be ideal.

Continue to share ideas with the play staff, ask for their ideas and input, how can the work we do improve their day to day work experience.

Professional development opportunities for play Specialists. It is important to value the work that is being done, it is unique and can be appreciated on many levels. It is not just a diversion for patients. Look at the work in a broader context, maybe show work that is going on in other hospitals, clinical settings.

In my experience process has to be given priority in an clinical setting. Although it was my idea to create a gallery of children’s work it was primarily about children being able to take ownership and enabling them to create their own environment in a situation where it is not always possible to be proactive. We need to create a balance between outcome and process to enable ideas to grow. I am very happy that as the project has progressed more mutually acceptable ways of working have been established.


Conclusion and Activities... Conclusion: This has been a truly innovative project. Enriching for both facilitator and patient. To my knowledge we have been working in a unique way in a clinical setting, celebrating children’s creativity and facilitating their ideas. As an artist I value children’s work and see it feeding directly into my own practice. There is a huge value in bringing ‘outsiders’ to the hospital, offering slightly different perspectives. There have been occasions when families have gone on to visit galleries and museums for the first time as a direct result of being involved in workshops. The best outcome of the entire project has been the number of children who started workshops shy and unsure but left with huge smiles and an enormous sense of achievement. Inevitably this makes the whole ward a happier place.


Activities Undertaken; Painting Drawing Printing Clay modeling Clay printing Fimo models Sculpture from Newspaper Masking tape

Wire Photography Animation Collage Self Portraits Embroidery Scrafitto Found Objects Brushes app ipad

A Special Thanks to: From Left to Right Valerie Thyer - Head of RUH School Room & HERS Lyn Gardiner - Play Specialist Edwina Bridgeman - Artist in Residence Charlotte Stowell - Workshop Faciilator Elle Farnham - Suited and Booted Animator Art at the Heart of the RUH team & volunteers

Sincere thanks to all the patients, their families and the staff of the RUH for their enthusiasm and creativity. “It is fantastic to see how Artsparks has found it’s feet and evolved over the past seven years, into a rounded, innovative and inspiring project for young patients at the Royal United Hospital, Bath” Hetty Dupays, Arts Programme Manager

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Artsparks Book 2011/2012  

A year round up of exhibitions and events taken part on the children's ward during 2011 - 2012

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