In June we launched a new project at Bluebell Lodge, an inpatient mental health rehabilitation unit for men. Part of Central & North West London NHS Foundation Trust, Bluebell Lodge provides long-term care and support for people who have complex mental health needs, which in many cases previous placements have been unable to meet. The average stay of residents is between 6 and 18 months, during which time they are supported to develop the necessary skills for independent living - both practical and in relation to personal mental health management and wellbeing.
We commissioned six artists to make highly inventive, compelling and NHS compliant artistic environments for the unit, in partnership with mental health service users, carers and mental health professionals. In addition to new work by our six commissioned artists - Rachael Champion, Tim A Shaw, Mark Titchner, Steve Macleod, Bob and Roberta Smith and Anna Barriball - we also have a work by Antony Gormley who has donated a piece to Hospital Rooms for Bluebell Lodge.
We are now nearing completion of our project, with just one artwork remaining to be installed. We’d like to share with you the amazing work that has been created at Bluebell Lodge and the dramatic ways the environment has been transformed.
‘Tropospheric Terrestrial Bodies’, in the Telephone Room at Bluebell Lodge.
Rachael Champion’s site-specific sculptures and installations explore relationships between industry, technology and nature. Often large in scale, her dramatic constructions question our interactions with the natural world and architectural space. Rachael has exhibited widely and her work has recently been on show at Hales Gallery and the Whitechapel Gallery. For our project at Bluebell Lodge Rachael has covered the walls, ceiling and floor of the Telephone Room in an immersive digital print collage. The images “depict terrestrial formations in the sky, including rocks and bodies of water...” merging “components of Earth’s elements into a transportive, joyful space.”
Bob and Roberta Smith
The Relatives’ Room
Bob and Roberta Smith is an artist, writer, musician, art education advocate, activist and public speaker. He is also a Royal Academician and university professor and is known for his distinctive “slogan” art, which muses on art, politics, and popular culture. At Bluebell Lodge he has painted a frieze in the Relatives’ Room which, developing a concept by the artist Paul Klee, takes a line for a walk and leads the eye around the space. Bob and Roberta’s meandering line is both wandering and wondering, inviting us to think about and enact visual ideas, creativity, and music making. Initial inspiration for the artwork came from a xylophone used for a music therapy session which Bob and Roberta Smith noticed during his first visit to Bluebell Lodge. Xylophones became a feature of the workshop Bob and Roberta Smith led for the residents: using a palette of colours and musical notes, art inspired music and music inspired art and the work created during the session was incorporated into Bob and Robert Smith’s painting in the Relatives’ Room.
Tim A Shaw
Corridors and Dining Room
Tim is not only one of the co-founders of Hospital Rooms but a practising artist who has exhibited his work both in the UK and internationally. This year Tim also had his first book published: ‘Draw & Be Happy: Art Exercises to Bring You Joy.’ At Bluebell Lodge Tim worked closely with the residents to come up with an artwork design for the corridors and Dining Room. Ideas were discussed with residents and recreated in a workshop using small-scale models of the spaces. The chosen design of clouds against a blue sky was then transferred by Tim onto the walls and ceiling of the corridors and Dining Room. The clouds have been painted in a shiny silver - chosen for the way it reflects the light and creates a more textured, dynamic surface.
Gym and Stairwell
Landscape photographer, creative director at Metro Imaging, and art educator Steve Macleod is no stranger to Hospital Rooms, having worked with us for our very first project at Phoenix Unit psychiatric rehab in Springfield University Hospital. The natural world is a constant source of inspiration for Steve and he immerses himself in the landscapes he photographs to explore their effect on mental wellbeing and the imagination. 2018 has been a busy year for Steve, completing a major new body of work titled Hala, a stunning collection of photographs taken on location in Dubai and exhibited for the first time at Somerset House in May. Despite this, however, Steve has dedicated himself to our project, creating not one but two ambitious beautiful new works for Bluebell Lodge. His artworks for the Gym and the stairwell were both influenced by a cyanotype workshop he led for residents on a baking hot summer’s day back in July. Cyanotype is a camera-less photographic printing process that produces a cyan-blue print and is made using a surface treated with photosensitive chemicals which is then exposed to light. You can read more about the cyanotype process, find out about Steve’s workshop and see more of the work created by participants in an earlier blog post: Bluebell Blueprints - chemistry, sunlight and creativity
Steve Macleod spent time wandering around a local meadow photographing plant shadows to create the image below, which is the basis for both his Bluebell Lodge artworks.
Two cyanotypes created during Steve Macleod’s cyanotyoe workshop.
For the Gym Steve reproduced his photograph as a room-sized image which wraps around the space.
The artwork Steve has created for the stairwell is inspired by the Fibonnaci spiral, which is prevalently expressed in natural forms, in the patterns of seed heads, shells and petals for example. Steve’s image curls around a corner of the stairwell; as you walk up or down the stairs the image is gradually revealed. The stairs, which link the ground floor common areas with the first floor floor patient bedrooms, provide the opportunity for multiple perspectives of the artwork.
‘Mind Matter’ in the Interview Room
Turner prize-winning artist Antony Gormley is perhaps best known for his work the ‘Angel of the North’. His installations, sculpture and public artworks explore the relationship of the human body to space. For our project at Bluebell Lodge, Antony Gormley has generously donated the piece below, a unique work titled ‘Mind Matter’, made using carbon, casein and correction fluid on paper. We have framed the work and installed it in the Interview Room.
Mark Titchner and Anna Barriball
Joint Camera Obscura workshop
Artists Mark Titchner and Anna Barriball together led a workshop at Bluebell Lodge, showing residents how to create camera obscura using cardboard boxes, magnifying glasses, tracing paper, mountboard and tape. One of the residents came up with his own creative double-lens version. In the pictures below you can see Niamh and Anna trying it out. With Camera Obscura, from the Latin meaning ‘dark room’, ‘pinhole images’ are created by admitting light into a dark enclosed space through a single small hole. This results in an inverted image of the outside scene cast on the surface opposite the hole. The technique has been used for centuries, as an aid to drawing as well as a means of safely viewing Solar eclipses. You can see inverted images of the Bluebell Lodge garden visible in the camera obscuras in the pictures below.
‘Please Believe’, in the TV Room
This is our second time working with Mark Titchner, who was one of the artists we commissioned for our project at Snowsfields Adolescent Unit at The Maudsley Hospital. Mark’s practice incorporates a broad range of media, including video, digital print, sculpture and wall painting. His work often explores the tensions between different belief systems - religious, scientific or political for example - and the influence of various ideologies on both the individual and society as a whole. He has just completed a major new public art commission at London Bridge, a series of stunning sculptural pieces titled ‘Me. Here. Now’ hanging above a pedestrian-only walkway on Stainer Street. We will be looking more closely at Mark’s London Bridge artwork in a forthcoming blog post. For the TV Room at Bluebell Lodge Mark has created a beautiful, intricate layered design which he has meticulously hand-painted.
Work by our final artist, Anna Barriball, will be installed within the next fortnight, keep an eye on our social media feeds to see the beautiful work Anna has created. Anna’s participation in our project has been supported by Cornish fashion brand Seasalt. You can find out about our partnership with Seasalt and the other ways in which they are supporting our work in an earlier blog post: Seasalt and Hospital Rooms - a natural fit
As well as support from Seasalt, our project at Bluebell Lodge is also part funded by Arts Council England. Colart has generously donated art materials for the project through their brand Liquitex.
As a charity, our work would not be possible without the generosity and support of friends and donors. With our newly launched Benefactor’s Scheme there are now more ways you can make a contribution and be a part of the work that we do. With your help we can transform more NHS mental health care environments across the UK and give more people the opportunity to be touched and inspired by our unique and radical projects.