Five years ago, Artfelt, the charity arts programme at Sheffield Children's Hospital, began its largest ever commissioning process, bringing together 20 leading artists and creatives from around the world to reimagine the treatment environment at the Hospital. Together, the charity and artists - such as Sarah Abbott, Jon Burgerman and arts collective Nous Vous - have worked to provide an extraordinary, engaging and uplifting space for young patients.
Quentin Blake’s work fills the corridors of three new wards and is the focus of large scale murals in the communal spaces where children eat and play. The collaboration celebrates well-known drawings from his archive, new 'magic pencil' murals and specially-customised pieces inspired by the work of Sheffield Children’s Hospital. These paintings, in the wards’ Parent Rooms, were first created for a children's hospital outside Paris in 2008, and have been specially adapted to show Sheffield Hospital staff in their distinctive unifroms helping young patients through the hospital experience around a 'magical' tree. Limited edition prints of these pieces can be purchased as part of ‘Collective’, a new exhibition coming to The Long Gallery at the hospital from March to October 2019. The exhibition will raise funds for Artfelt’s important work improving patient experience.
For the commission, Artfelt Manager Cat Powell worked with Quentin and Burgess Studio to select groups of illustrations from his extensive collection of orginal drawings and watercolours. These were re-produced as high quality framed prints and 'wallpaper' which allow dialogue between children and carers as they walk through the hospital spaces. Circus artists, mythical dragons, the trumpet playing Mr Magnolia and Fantastic Daisy Artichoke, all feature amongst the engaging images, which were deliberately chosen for their child-friendly nature.
Cat says: ‘I was thrilled to work with Quentin on this project. Like many people he was the illustrator of my childhood and through his prolific style he remains relevant to children today. It’s been wonderful introducing his illustrations to a new generation and hearing the comments from adults and children alike in response to his work”. One parent commented: “I love the artwork, it’s so friendly and welcoming. It brightens up the ward so much and it doesn’t feel like a clinical space. My daughter loves the colours and she’s only two, so it’s helping her learn as well.”
An avid supporter of art in hospitals, Quentin says about the collaboration: “Over the past dozen years I have worked on many projects in hospitals, and have been moved to discover the positive effects pictures can have. Hospitals can be strange and intimidating places, especially for a child so it was fabulous to be asked to create some new pieces of art and to
work with the Burgess team on this project. I hope it will enhance the powerful relationship between staff and patients, and that they will find plenty to look at, think about and enjoy.”
Find out more at www.tchc.org.uk/what-we-do/artfelt/exhibitions.