Jeremy Deller and Yinka Shonibare among artists donating works for NHS staff rooms

Jeremy Deller and Yinka Shonibare among artists donating works for NHS staff rooms

For the creatives involved, the initiative offers a meaningful opportunity to express gratitude and solidarity with NHS staff – particularly as many of the artists live in the east London area that the hospitals serve. As Catsou Roberts, the director of Vital Arts, said in a statement: “We are keen to bring enriching artwork directly to our clinical colleagues – in those areas, and during this moment – when they might need it most. I believe these artworks will offer comfort and inspiration, and convey the respect we hold for frontline staff during this difficult time.”

In response to the current crisis, Barts Health NHS Trust, one of the largest in the UK with a workforce of around 17,000 people, is upgrading existing areas and creating new spaces in which clinical staff can find rest and respite. With mounting evidence demonstrating the benefits of art on mental health in clinical settings, the artworks will enhance spaces for reflection and calm in recognition of the adverse effects of intense pressure on staff and as a long-lasting commitment to their wellbeing.

As Dr. Rory McDermott, Consultant Respiratory Physician at Newham University Hospital, put it in a statement: “[The project] has much less to do with paintings in a staff room, and much more to do with what remains when the world is rapidly changing around you. The project will afford frontline staff a few moments to take stock, absorb the art and ponder the questions that it raises before returning to patient care.”

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