Last October I was thrilled to be asked by arts consultants Willis Newson to apply for another public art commission. I went through the selection process and was chosen to design a huge feature wall for the new Macmillan Y Bwthyn Specialist Care Unit at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital. I was so pleased, although a little bit daunted at first!
Specialist care is currently provided for the area in the Y Bwthyn Unit at Pontyridd cottage hospital. However, this is due to close once the new unit is up and running in 2019. Understandably, the current staff and patients are quite apprehensive about the move, so the project needs to be handled sensitively.
Arts in Healthcare consultancy, Willis Newson, who are producing the public art programme for the new unit gave me the working title: “Bringing the Outside In”. This brief has steered me to develop a mural that depicts sweeping views of local countryside and wildflowers.
My feature wall will run down the main corridor of the new unit and measure approximately 45 square metres in total – pretty big stuff! I have been working closely with Interior Designer Elaine Lewis to make sure the artwork connects with and complements her proposed interior. It is also vital that it interacts with and incorporates ideas from the other artists working on the project.
A requirement of the commission is that artists take into account ideas and opinions of staff and patients currently being treated or working in the existing unit. The first consultation session took place back in December 2017, when artists Nicky Hirst and Anna Bruce, alongside myself, delivered a lino printing workshop. In actual fact, being just before Christmas, everyone was more interested in creating Christmas cards! However, it did provide a gentle distraction in order to spark up conversations about how everyone felt about the new unit. We found out a lot and identified elements that should be taken forward from the old unit into the new.
After delivering the initial design ideas in March, I am now busy planning another consultation meeting for late Spring. During this meeting I plan to get ideas and opinions to inform the nature-based foreground to my mural. I hope to find out what kinds of flora and fauna should be included.
I have really enjoyed this new area of creativity! Working at such a large scale has definitely opened up new opportunities for learning, and I have really enjoyed the challenge – despite being a little overwhelmed at first. In fact, I have already secured myself another similar commission! More about that one to follow soon.