Vital Arts is the arts organisation for Barts and The London NHS Trust, and is charitably funded to deliver arts projects for the well being of patients, staff and the wider hospital community. Founded in 1996, it has developed an international reputation as an innovative organisation producing pioneering arts programmes that improve the experience of being in hospital for patients and staff. Vital Arts views the areas of the hospital as important civic spaces, which are ideal places to introduce new audiences to the transformative power of art.
Vital Arts forges links with the hospital community through a diverse programme that includes live concerts – on the wards and in public areas – as well as interactive and educational events.
Vital Arts also stages temporary exhibitions, manages an artist-in-residency programme, and publishes limited edition prints. At the core of the visual arts programme, however, is purchasing artworks for the Collection and the commissioning of site-specific works for display within the various hospital buildings at Barts, The Royal London and The London Chest.
These include installations, sculptures, prints, moving images, drawings, lens-based work, illuminated works, works on paper, as well as paintings. Within the Collection, there is a range of approaches to paintings. For the Barts Breast Care Centre, George Shaw made Home Series, a number of small, intimate paintings on board based on his childhood home. These help bring a sense of the everyday and the familiar to patients. Within the same building, James Aldridge created a series of painted panels (Twilight) that cover an entire room (recalling the magnificent Hogarths painted for the stair of the adjacent eighteenth-century building by James Gibbs). Unlike Shaw’s comfort in the homely, Aldridge offers patients a fantastical scene of plants and animals at twilight.
Imaginary and idealised landscapes are also key to the paintings by Paula Kane, Katie Deith and Kate Bright, whilst bold abstractions are at play in the paintings of Lothar Götz and Jaime Gili. Gili’s site-specific installation Health, Safety, Signs at The Royal London Health and Wellness Centre is car paint sprayed onto aluminium panels. In the same building, Bob and Roberta Smith’s playful installation of 42 paintings is scattered throughout the Centre as a bird-spotting puzzle.
Catsou Roberts, Commissions Curator
Text source: PCF / Vital Arts, Barts and The London NHS Trust
This description was originally written for a catalogue.
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