Sunday, 17 October 2010

Art as Medicine

I love art in the workspace and it might not surprise my more regular visitors (thanks guys) that I hold strong beliefs about its true therapeutic value in healthcare settings for staff, visitors and patients/service users/client or whatever you may wish to call 'our customers' these days.  Answer to be decided after hours of deliberation in a boardroom near you!   On the way to a meeting the other day I was met by this wonderful piece of sculpture in the grounds of Wonford House Hospital in Exeter.   With a little bit of research I've found out it was created through by artists working for a local charity, Magic Carpet Arts , who helped people on the unit produce this fascinating piece of work, a mix of mosaic and sculptural form.

It caused me to consider art in the NHS and where the money comes from. As you may be aware I work full-time, doing family stuff and dabbling a bit in craft projects of my own. That doesn't leave a whole lot of time for researching my daily post but I gave it a fair crack in the five minutes or so that I got today! I found out that lots of the artwork in hospitals is funded by charities, who either buy art or commission artists to work on therapeutic projects in hospitals.  But occasionally there is a hoo haa when the NHS itself directly splashes out the cash.  Take, this example found in that esteemed tome 'The Daily Mail'.  An NHS trust in Mid Essex was condemned by the paper for spending £421,000 on art at the same time as seeking £40 million in  budget cuts.

I'm siding with the voice of the blue rinse brigade here.  This doesn't seem like a good use of public money at a time when we are being sought to tighten our belt to such a degree that the metaphorical  muffin top becomes de rigueur. What would be better use though is to restore the production of good quality art works as a bona fide therapeutic activity which provides both an engaging treatment for a vast range of conditions and an end product to be displayed to enhance the healing environment.

PS: These chickens greet me each morning. They are much loved by many people who use the hospital where I work.

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