Paintings in Hospitals Celebrating 60 Years
Paintings in Hospitals is the UK’s leading national arts in health charity and celebrate their 60th Anniversary this year. Yet the charity’s history is not widely known.
In 1959, in a busy hospital corridor, Sheridan Russell fixed an artwork to the wall. Sheridan was Britain’s first male almoner. The almoners were the pioneers of what we now call Social Work. They believed that medical treatment could be made better by improving aftercare and the care environment. Sheridan worked at the National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery and had started displaying artworks in waiting rooms and wards. He noticed people’s reactions to these new artworks and began to see just how important art could be to people’s health and wellbeing.
With help from the Nuffield Foundation, Sheridan set out to create a special art collection. This would become the Paintings in Hospitals collection: the first and only national collection of art curated specifically to support people’s physical and mental health.
Through the years, Sheridan inspired more people to see the importance of art in healthcare. Sir Dennis Proctor (former Chair of Tate), Roger de Grey (former President of the Royal Academy of Arts) and many more patrons, trustees and supporters joined the Paintings in Hospitals mission. Together, they helped the charity’s impact grow. In just over ten years, Sheridan expanded Paintings in Hospitals from the National Hospital to 42 hospitals across London.
However, Sheridan believed that everyone should be able to experience the health benefits of art, regardless of situation or location. So, in the 1980s, Paintings in Hospitals began to develop a regional network, enabling care sites outside of London to access their services and borrow their art. In 1991, the charity provided seed funding for Paintings in Hospitals Scotland, which has since become Art in Healthcare.
Although appropriate at the time of the charity’s founding, the name ‘Paintings in Hospitals’ is now somewhat of a misnomer. Today, the charity’s art collection holds approximately 4,000 artworks, many of which are not paintings but prints, drawings, textiles, sculptures and digital pieces by artists such as Bridget Riley, Antony Gormley, Ian Davenport, Maggi Hambling, Andy Warhol, Anish Kapoor, Howard Hodgkin, Patrick Caulfield, Helen Chadwick, Sonia Boyce, Alexander Calder, and many more.
The way in which people receive care has also evolved since 1959 with much of it now taking place in community settings. Paintings in Hospitals recognised this and no longer limits itself to working solely in hospital environments: the charity is currently partnered with 180 health and social care organisations across the country including GP practices, dental surgeries, hospices, care homes, prison infirmaries, mental health units and Special Educational Needs (SEN) schools.
For sixty years, Paintings in Hospitals has strived to make it straightforward and affordable for care organisations to benefit from art. The charity aims to remove all barriers by offering to partner with any type of care organisation and working directly with patients and carers to empower them to make informed, democratic decisions about their own care spaces. They use their art collection to inspire artist projects and creative activities that help create care spaces that are encouraging, enriching and empowering for everyone.
If you would like to know more about Paintings in Hospitals
Tel: 020 7407 3222. Visit: www.paintingsinhospitals.org.uk