Journeys: The healing arts

Saatchi Gallery partners with hospital charity, CW+, to present first ‘Arts in Health’ exhibition

Paola Estrella's Synchronicity is being displayed at the Saatchi Gallery in London as part of a collaboration with CW+, the charity for Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. The work explores the entanglement between performance, meditation, and film

Saatchi Gallery and CW+, the charity of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, have partnered to present a first-of-its-kind arts in health exhibition entitled Journeys: The Healing Arts.

The programme is a selection of bespoke artworks from the CW+ art collection, commissioned to enhance the environment and improve patient outcomes at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

And it is the first time CW+ has exhibited artworks from its collection on this scale to a wider public within a gallery setting.

CW+’s award-winning Arts in Health programme was established when Chelsea and Westminster Hospital was actually built in 1993, located just one mile from the Saatchi Gallery.

Art was integral to the design of the facility and bespoke artworks were built into the hospital’s foundations.

Since then, CW+’s pioneering programme has evolved to combine visual and performing arts with live music and dance; participatory music, art and craft workshops; film screenings; innovative design and green spaces; as well as a collection of over 2,000 works of art and digital installations to transform and improve the hospital environment for patients, families, volunteers, and staff.

Saatchi Gallery first partnered with CW+ in September 2021 when the gallery shared virtual access to the renowned exhibition, JR: Chronicles.

This enabled the hospital community to virtually visit the exhibition online and via patient bedside screens as part of CW+’s online arts in health programme, which was created in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic when the charity’s in-person participatory activities had to stop.

Emily Thomas' That’s what we’re here for : During her residency, Emily shadowed the volunteers team; engaging with their daily activities and having valuable conversations and her artwork portrays and includes quotes from these conversations

Journeys: The Healing Arts exhibits works from over 20 artists and explores the different communities and stories that make up Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

The unique exhibition explores the journey from traditional drawn artworks through to innovative digital and screen-based artworks, including a new commission created by musician and artist, Brian Eno.

Many of the drawn artworks capture life in the hospital during the pandemic and are a visual representation of the way the hospital and its communities changed so dramatically.

The exhibition also explores the place that both these mediums have within the hospital community and displays art that reflects care, support, and recovery.

Eno, a British musician and featured artist, said: “To be part of the CW+ exhibition at Saatchi Gallery is a great honour.

“For a number of years, I’ve worked with the CW+ team in creating works that provide a positive and calming environment, something that seems vital to a patient’s experience and recovery.

“My latest work, Midlands, aims to take patients on both a physical and emotional journey, to hopefully relieve some of the anxiety or pain they might be experiencing.

“ It is fantastic to be exhibited in such a splendid gallery alongside so many other wonderful artworks all with a mutual aim of expediting healing through art.”

Laura Uccello, director of partnerships at Saatchi Gallery, adds: “Working closely with CW+ has allowed Saatchi Gallery to share free access to contemporary art to itsr wide hospital community.

“We are delighted to be exhibiting Journeys and sharing with our visitors the meaningful impact that the visual arts have on Chelsea and Westminster Hospital’s commissioned artists, patients, volunteers, and staff members.”

And Trystan Hawkins, arts director at CW+, told BBH: “Thanks to our generous supporters, we’re able to work with these incredible artists to transform the hospital experience and environment for our patients, their families and our hardworking staff and I am delighted that, for the first time, the wider community can now also enjoy these artworks and learn more about our innovative programme of work.”

The exhibition is free entry and will be on view at Saatchi Gallery in Galleries 1 and 2 on the ground floor.

Owen Diplock's Sunrises is also on show as part of the Journeys: The Healing Arts exhibition

Featured artists

Anouk Mercier – 50 Nurses: Created in parallel with the CW+ heritage project celebrating the 300th anniversary of the original Westminster Hospital, 50 Nurses displays 50 portraits of nurses and addresses the significant lack of female representation throughout both the hospital archives and the charity’s historic art collection. It specifically responded to the discovery of a 1919 photograph of Westminster nurses, which omitted to record any of the photographed women’s names.

University of West England, Gary Embury, Lucy Ward and Anouk Mercier – Drawn ll: The CW+ Drawn in Residence II project charts, records, and describes the impact of COVID-19 on the hospital communities, in partnership with the Tavolozza Foundation. The programme and portfolio of work aims to document, explore, and capture the changing roles of staff during the pandemic, the new hospital environments, the role of arts – particularly drawing – in healthcare settings, and how the pandemic has shaped this.

Emily Thomas – That’s what we’re here for: During her residency, Emily shadowed the volunteers team; engaging with their daily activities and having valuable conversations. Drawing on location allowed her to be fully engaged with the subject matter she portrayed and include quotes from conversations that add different angles and perspectives to her work.

Olivier Krugler and Tim King – Reportage: This ongoing residency chronicles the stories of patients and staff, particularly capturing the unseen workers in the hospital. The artists have spent time in the hospital, on the wards, in theatres, attending clinics, shadowing catering and cleaning teams, and generally gaining insight and understanding of the hospital community. The project is a collaboration between artists, healthcare professionals, and all the staff who are key to keeping the hospital running.

Carlos Penalver – Best For You (Live Drawing): Carlos produced this work for the CW+ Best For You programme following an interview with a young user of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. The interview shared the patient’s past and current experiences of mental health services, and the creative outcome of work is a series of images representing stages of these experiences, like a timeline.

Brian Eno – Midlands: As part of the RELAX Digital programme, CW+ commissioned Brian Eno to create new digital artwork. It will be installed in the waiting area of the fracture clinic at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

Brian Eno's Midlands installation will feature in the waiting area of the fracture clinic at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital

Accademia – The Digital Zoo: Research has shown that exposure to images of nature reduces anxiety and improves patient outcomes. The Digital Zoo is designed to distract, engage, and calm children while they wait and receive care in the paediatric waiting and treatment rooms at the hospital’s emergency department.

Paola Estrella – Synchronicity: Synchronicity explores the entanglement between performance, meditation, and film. Through a process in which the artist connects with the beauty that can be found in the process of transformation, she practiced a series of movements across natural landscapes in the South of England. By observing the relationship between the body of the performer and elements such as plants, flowers, and water, this work aims to open a space to unwind.

Min Young Kim – Companion: Companion, is a real-time sensor-based simulation plant, originally designed to be installed within hospital wards. The inspiration came from the large-scale greenhouse-like constructions of the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and the team generated virtual plant avatars that are designed to be hypersensitive to uncontrollable natural factors within the hospital, such as living noise and natural light.

James Hope Faulkner – Project Willow: James’s peaceful journeys are recorded from the first-person perspective and displayed to individual or groups of patients throughout their treatment. Viewers are drawn into the immersive effect of the first-person forward movement, as if they themselves were on the journey. The nature of this content will not only mitigate feelings of boredom and anxiety in patients, but also physical symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue and pain.

Owen Diplock – Sunrises: A series of elegantly-captured films of the spring sunrise unfold in real time in this artwork. Shot at various pastoral locations across Hertfordshire, these meditative and visually-arresting films were as calming and restorative to create as they are to watch.

Morgan Beringer – Seasonal: This is an hour-long ambient video work that gradually cycles through landscapes and textures representing each of the four seasons, becoming something of an abstract clock. It is intended to invite reflection upon how we perceive and delineate the passage of time, and the way we define or symbolically represent the seasons.

Morgan Beringer's Seasonal is an hour-long ambient video work that gradually cycles through landscapes and textures representing each of the four seasons

Kit Mead – Liquid Crystal: The digital screen is made up of pixels; slippery things that morph and change continuously into new and different forms. It uses the mutability of the digital screen to generate an animation of metamorphoses where objects and forms continually change with the intention of creating a situation where the viewer can be swept away in the malleable sea of the pixel.

Eda Sarman – Favourite Colour: This was created by patients for patients. Sarman worked with long-term patients and held marbling workshops at the hospital. She gave space for the stroke and paediatric patients to explore the question ‘What is your favourite colour?’. The resulting film is a composition of the patient group exploring their favourite colours and creating ever-changing patterns.

Sara Choudhrey – Cascade: Cascade is a vector animation, presenting a geometric composition reminiscent of Islamic visual arts, with floral motifs and linework based on an isometric grid. The composition is displayed in alternating, undulating form, at sparing moments almost static, indicating the unity of the polygonal structure and the sub-divided shapes. The shapes fit together in mathematical harmony and are dispersed with soft petals, referencing a contrasting organic matter.

Cascade by Sara Choudhary is a vector animation, presenting a geometric composition reminiscent of Islamic visual arts

Stateless Studios – Circadian Cycles: Through careful consultation with CW+ and David Erskine staff, circadian rhythms and calming imagery of nature inform this 12-hour cyclical content. By working with a combination of photography and animation, warm and relaxing films of sky, with subtle changes and movement, create a window into the outside world. As a respiratory unit, David Erskine ward is often a place of high stress for both staff, patients and visitors. By providing a presence of nature and time, this artwork aims to create a sense of calm.

Genesis Arts – Immersive Healing Arts System: This is an innovative, interactive digital art installation at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, for patients and staff to experience interactive audio-visual art that induces positive moods and emotions.

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