MAAP - Medical Architecture and Art Projects report
The £8million redevelopment of Building 24 at St. Nicholas Hospital in Gosforth is a two storey development and comprises of new modern facilities within the context and confines of a late Victorian mental health hospital. The building provides inpatient services for an adult Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit on the ground floor and an adolescent Learning Disability Unit on the first. As architects, we see the benefit of establishing an early strategy for artwork. The more the artwork is integrated into the architecture and building then the end result feels more cohesive and therefore more effective.
With a clear objective in mind, a small focus group was set-up, including a representative from the contractor, the client and MAAP. The group would provide the brief, organise the advertisement, interview the artists and appoint. Nobody in the group had any experience of commissioning an artist but we quickly established information for an advert and 'Bringing the Outside-In' was published in A-N Magazine. The response was good - receiving interest from around the region and nationwide. Interviews were arranged and we appointed Binita Walia, a glass artist from London. It was a very positive interview, we all felt we could easily work with Binita and believed the outcome would be very good.
In the resulting work, each window represents a story or idea, using motifs such as boats to represent movement, travel and displacement and boat sails containing images of sky, landscape and familiar local sites. The 'Pebble' piece is inspired by the idea of trip too the seaside and evokes a seaside landscape to get lost in. The Ladder piece represents journeys and escape and the Sky&146; piece has been created to replace the sky which has been obscured by the artwork. The chosen colours were derived through workshops with young people and staff and the windows have received fantastic feedback.
First published: a-n.co.uk January 2009
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