New artworks part of arts strategy at Welwyn Garden City development
Art in Site has recently finished installing work as part of its art strategy for the NEW QEII Hospital in Welwyn Garden City.
Working closely with Penoyre & Prasad architects, Art in Site has commissioned artists to produce works that remain highly sensitive to the site and the needs of its patients, at the same time as they enhance the building’s community feel and even capitalise on opportunities to boost its functionality.
One of the commissioned artists, Charlotte Mann, has recently completed an installation of two illustrative works - a mural inside the building, and a series of window screens cladding the exterior windows. Her designs draw on the everyday life and history of the surrounding areas: the ornate shapes of the window screens, rendered in laser-cut stainless steel, recall the net curtains seen throughout the local town; and the highly-detailed, mesmerising mural illustrations depict the house and garden at no 39, The Wade - a 1950s house attached to the former Queen Elizabeth Hospital - the first fully-functioning hospital ever built by the NHS.
The laser-cut stainless steel screens have been a hit for staff, patients and visitors
Mann’s work has received overwhelming positive feedback from patients, visitors, and staff alike. This is in part due to the powerful visual effect of her window screens created as one approaches the site – they glint elegantly in the sunlight, contrasting dramatically with the dark bronze-glazed cladding of the building. It is also due to the alluring-homely effect produced in the room’s interiors – every screen is composed of a unique pattern, which helps to lend a different character to each of the rooms in which they are placed. But, perhaps the most unexpected reason for the positive reception derives from the role they play in regulating air-flow: Mann’s screens double up as ventilation panels, providing the interior with a constantly-recycling fresh air, and thus helping inhabitants, and the building, to breathe better. And, as noted on the QE II website, the screens also provide security and privacy to patients, even when the windows are wide open.
David Tremlett also worked on the development
Alongside Mann’s work, Art in Site commissioned artist David Tremlett to bring colour and rhythm into the entrance hallway. Tremlett is perhaps best known for his work at Tate Britain, where his crayon mural fills the Manton staircase, delighting visitors on their way to see exhibitions. His intervention in the New QEII similarly employs playful uses of colour and geometry, which dance across the space, while at the same time serving as a colour-code for wayfinding throughout the building.
Mann and Tremlett’s bold work engages patients from the minute they arrive at the hospital, ensuring a culture of care and community is evident from the moment anyone steps into the building. These works are demonstrative of an art strategy that can yield multiple benefits of many kinds for a hospital and its public: in this case, it can elevate an environment, lend it a sense of history and locality, and it can even enhance its functionality.
The exterior screens have several benefits, including enhancing privacy and dignity and doubling up as ventilation panels