Back in October 2019, Elaine Lewis invited me to join her in creating a bespoke interior for the new Severn Hospice.
It all began with a colour palette, which was developed from an amazing kingfisher painting by Rory McCann. He created the painting at the hospice and donated it as a gift. This starting point became the inspiration for the beautiful interior; the painting itself has now been moved from the existing building, to the new day facility across the road. The vision for the project was to bring the calm and wellbeing of outdoor spaces into the building. Elaine asked me to create murals and acrylic artwork that would complement the beautiful interior.
I visited the site on many occasions and back then, it was hard to imagine how fantastic it would look one day. The wet and soggy visits in the coldest of weathers, when there were pools of water inside, as well as out, are now a distant memory. But gradually it developed into the warm, caring and comforting space that exists today.
As part of the caring theme, Elaine came up with the idea of a ‘potting shed’ corner for the Creative Therapy Room. The client was thrilled! One of the aims of the new unit was to not only attract passers-by into the new cafe, but also to attract a greater age range into making use of the unit. After several mood boards and much research, we came up with the idea of a contemporary shed – dark grey match boarding, with a real potting table and tools hanging on pegs, sitting alongside drawn ones. I remember it well; it was the first lockdown – I tapped into my neighbourhood WhatsApp group and searched for the most attractive watering cans and spades I could find! Thankfully my neighbours had a great selection! The spring hyacinths were in bloom in my garden and the woodgrain for the planks came from my own shed. The concept came together easily. Patients in a wheelchair can even sit up to the height adjustable tables, plant up their seeds and them take them outside to the greenhouse or raised vegetable beds. It’s a lovely space, which we hope will bring joy to many of the visitors at the day centre.
With regards to the entrance mural, Elaine asked me to create a gentle and welcoming woodland scene. I had to bring the outside in. Given the location, I could see how important trees were, especially the oak tree. The palette was in place and Elaine began to select the fabrics and finishes, so I gradually came up with some design ideas. The aesthetic is looser and more abstract than many of my previous murals; as desired, it is softer and less graphic, providing warmth and comfort. Most of the artwork was created using watercolour paints. I remember working through lots of ideas for how it could be scaled up to the giant size it is today. Initially, I felt quite nervous about how I could make the design flow into the glazing above, but I realised it could prove really dramatic and impactful. The high-level glazing was finalised quite late in the project, but once it was confirmed, I instructed Artworks Solutions to measure up so that I could get the designs to flow around corners and extend up into the second level. The screen is huge, it measures 3m high and 10m long! Everyone loves it and I’m so pleased with how it all came together in the end.
On our last visit to the site before installation, Elaine and I discussed the idea of creating some bespoke acrylic artwork to complement the interiors. Keeping the woodland theme in mind I scoured the countryside on my lockdown walks for interesting weeds, ferns and foliage. We were approaching winter at the time, so this wasn’t easy. However, I am so pleased with the end results. In total I created 16 individual pieces of artwork, which were sited in quiet rooms and complementary therapy rooms as well as communal areas.
Installation happened just after New Year, 6 and 7 January. As I also teach, I was unable to be there on the 6 January, but when I arrived on 7 January most of the murals and the glazing manifestations were already installed! I was so delighted and thankful to Artworks for making the whole process so easy. As you can see from the final photos the whole interior scheme works beautifully together. The fabrics on the lovely furniture and the murals complement each other beautifully; the aesthetic is calm, uplifting and welcoming. Elaine and I make a great team! I am sure the new Severn Hospice will make a big difference to everyone’s life who works there or visits. Do pop in for a coffee if you are passing! The address is Severn Hospice, Bicton Heath, Shrewsbury, SY3 8HS.