Among the artists commissioned for our project at Eileen Skellern 1, a psychiatric intensive care unit for women at The Maudsley Hospital, was South-African born Tamsin Relly. Working across a range of media, including painting, drawing and printmaking, Tamsin uses her practice to reflect on global climate change and explore notions of wilderness. The instability and impermanence of certain urban and natural environments is reflected in work which foregrounds the fluid and unpredictable qualities of painting and printmaking. Tamsin's research has included visiting and studying diverse and extreme locations, such as receding glaciers in Svalbard in the Arctic Circle and the fabricated oasis of Las Vegas.
Tamsin's dedication to our project at Eileen Skellern 1 and the sensitivity of her approach to creating work with and for the service users and staff was an inspiration to all of us at Hospital Rooms. So in this week's blog post we're shining a light on Tamsin's work at ES1, following its development, creation and ongoing impact.
Tamsin started developing her ideas at her studio. In small scale test paintings, she refined shapes and colours that would become part of her multi-media installation at ES1.
Tamsin settled on the idea of creating a large wall painting on site at Eileen Skellern 1, on top of which she would install a print of a work made off site: both figuratively and practically, Tamsin brought the outside in.
Coproduction is intrinsic to the work we do at Hospital Rooms and is an absolute priority in every project when it comes to the kind of working relationships we aim to establish between artists, fabricators, service users and staff. Tamsin's sensitivity to the environment in which she would be working and thoughtful, empathetic consideration of how it might feel to live and work at ES1 was reflected in her wholehearted embrace of collaborative working right from the outset of the project. She involved service users and staff as much as possible in the development of her work, even using a bit of photographic trickery to insert her planned artwork into photographs of the Main Sitting Room and thus create images which would make it easier for service users and staff to visualise her ideas.
To develop and realise her ideas Tamsin also worked closely with London's foremost photographic and fine art print lab, Metro Imaging. The large scale print of Tamsin's work Pink Shadow which would be installed in ES1 was created using Metro Imaging's incredible direct to media printer, which will print an image onto pretty much any flat surface, including wood, glass, aluminium and slate. Identifying the best material on which to print her work, Tamsin worked with Metro's Creative Director Steve Macleod and his team. Steve is also a professional photographer and was not only one of our commissioned artists for our very first project but has been commissioned again by us for our current project at Bluebell Lodge. You can read about the cyanotype workshop he ran for staff and residents at Bluebell Lodge in a previous blog post, titled Bluebell Blueprints - chemistry, sunlight and creativity.
Tamsin and Steve had to bear in mind health and safety regulations when choosing a print surface for Tamsin's work. The work could not be framed or protected behind glass so would need to be digitally printed on a surface that was durable and damage resistant. The dibond surface which was eventually selected is lightweight but strong, scratch proof and can be wiped clean. The edges of the dibond print could be rounded off and it could be secured flat against the wall with tamper-proof screws. Importantly this robust material also guarantees a high quality printed image so the visual impact of Tamsin's work would not be compromised by the necessary practical considerations.
Tamsin at work in the Main Sitting Area at Eileen Skellern 1, installing her large scale print with the help of Hospital Rooms co-founder Niamh White.
Tamsin's work schedule was carefully worked out with Eileen Skellern 1's ward manager and the core team to limit disruption to the ward and its existing daily timetable. We also worked very closely with staff to manage risk, continually reassessing the situation and keeping in mind the possibility of suddenly having to stop working if it was necessary. For all our projects, when we are working on site our aim is to keep risk minimal and not obstruct any day-to-day activities, whilst at the same time encourage ongoing interaction between patients and artists and facilitate opportunities for coproduction.
Months of preparation and development and an intense few days of hard work on site resulted in a wonderful multi media installation which has transformed the Main Sitting Area.
From an interview with Lara Johnson-Wheeler for Show Studio, reflecting on the impact of Hospital Rooms' Eileen Skellern 1 project.
Since the project's completion, Tamsin's work at Eileen Skellern 1 has appeared a number of times in the media. As part of a week dedicated to mental health Channel 4 news aired a feature about Hospital Rooms, shining a light on the work that we do and including interviews with service users, staff and artists from our projects at Eileen Skellern 1 and Snowsfields Adolescent Unit. The feature can still be viewed here. Tamsin's work has also appeared in both national and international press features.
With the assistance of Metro Imaging, Tamsin has produced a limited edition run of 25 unframed Gicleé prints of her Pink Shadow. Proceeds from the sale of the prints will be donated exclusively to Hospital Rooms to help us raise money for our most urgent upcoming projects.
You can purchase the print and find out more details about it on our website here.
Having developed strong bonds with the staff at ES1 whilst working on the project, Tamsin kindly donated this acrylic on board piece to the unit, to be displayed in the nurses' station.
Many thanks to Tamsin for permission to use images from her Instagram account in this blog post. Follow Tamsin @tamsinrelly to see more of her wonderful work and keep up to date with her progress.
Work like this would not be possible without the generosity and support of Hospital Rooms’ friends and donors. 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 the unique and radical work that we do.
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