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      Artists Hans K Clausen and Kjersti Sletteland collaborated with writer Jenni Fagan and over 700 staff and patient participants, to present a fascinating exhibition set amidst the iconic and theatrical backdrop of the University of Edinburgh’s Anatomical Museum. Hand squeezed porcelain ‘artefacts’ produced during participatory workshops across NHS hospital sites as well as drawings, poetry, sculptures and collected biographical information were presented amidst the museums historical anatomical exhibits making for a unique and striking visual experience. Elements of the exhibition were constructed in response to the aesthetics of the museum, for example a replica of a 19th century phrenology cabinet containing a poem by Jenni Fagan, while other aspects used the museum exhibits as a backdrop in which to set their contemporary visual narrative. 

      Anatomy of a Fleeting Moments at Edinburgh Art Festival

      The enhanced design of the play waiting areas across the RHCYP was led by design team Warren Design. Daniel and William Warren began by talking to patients. 

      “We asked patients in the waiting rooms what they thought a waiting space should be like” recounts Daniel. “There are lots of practical challenges – families of very different groupings of ages; a level of privacy for breastfeeding; buggies and wheelchairs; the need of teenagers not to feel grouped together with younger children. But alongside the practical needs, there were some common themes about the mood of the space. Bright, fun, quiet and relaxing were popular words. And art activities, along with books, magazines and toys, were the most common activity requests – to our surprise more popular than the internet and physical play.” 

      “We also worked out early on that art and play – and the teams who facilitate that – were vital for making patients feel welcome, and feel ownership of the space,” adds Daniel “Hospital play is a specialist discipline, with play practitioners using it for a range of purposes – distraction, preparation, post-procedure, development, and the one which seemed particularly important in the spaces we were working in: normalising the hospital environment.   Knowing about the play and art opportunities available, which might be similar to what you can do outside a hospital, also matters, so those opportunities need to be visible. And related to this, another big thing we identified was this Edinburgh sense of ownership of their children’s hospital. ‘Everyone’s been through the hospital at some point’ – we kept being told that, and the look and feel of the place will become a shared memory for so many Edinburgh locals, so art, gently playful art, obviously has a big role to play in making the new waiting spaces distinctive and giving people an even more positive experience of somewhere they consider so much their own.” 

      So we took all this input,” says William, “and we started thinking about gentle, but fun, approaches we could take to the spaces. That included everything from the furniture to practical things like storage to bigger art interventions. For example: there’s one chair we designed, which is a bit like a deer, so playful, but also has a table built in which can be used for drawing or writing. And another example is the arches in the Pod space, where we worked with illustrator Emiliy Hogarth to create a imaginative ‘safe’ feeling spaces where different groups can gather, or which can become part of a gentle toddler hide-and-seek 

      In conclusion, then? “There are innumerable ways that art and play relate in the spaces we worked on” says Daniel. “Overall, we hope that the atmosphere we’ve created through using them is what patients asked for: quiet and relaxing, but at the same time, bright and fun.”

      Kate Ive is the lead artist on ‘Old to New’; a project which aims to share the identity, history, and stories of the three institutions as they undergo a transition from their original sites to the new build at Little France. We asked her about the importance of preserving a sense of identity in a new building:
      As the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services transition into their new purpose built hospital, it is important to look to the future whilst also preserving and acknowledging the histories and pasts of these services. There was a wealth of inspiration that could be drawn upon from the history of their individual identities for the ‘Old to New’ Artwork. During my research this was clear not just from the Lothian Health Services Archives but also from the hospital staff. They told me of the strong connections they feel with their current/old buildings and how their identities are still strongly intertwined with their locations and individual histories.  
      Much of my practice draws upon the past as a starting point, creating tangible connections with our evolution and development. Working with these initial concepts, I aim to push these details forward, transforming them with hope for the future. I was given an abundance of tiny but significant details from the hospital users that stood out and needed to be captured and carried forward. These are the details that have come together to form the artwork. As such the ‘Old to New’ sculptures look to encapsulate some of the most significant moments so that they get brought into the new hospital, reminding the fledgling building of the strong foundations upon which it has been established.

      Emma Butler-Cole Aiken was commissioned to lead the design of the reinterpretation of the stained glass window project after designing and making the Sanctuary Stained Glass window for the Sciennes Road Royal Hospital for Sick Children in 1997. We asked Emma to share the story behind the design of the old stained glass window:   

       I was asked to design and make a new window for (at that time) the new chapel space in the hospital. The brief was to make something that would appeal to people of all faiths or none, and not to include anything that was specific to any faith group. 

      I had actually spent many hours in that very space in the early 90’s, when it was a seating area for waiting parents and visitors to the hospital with snack machines and so on. My daughter was being treated for kidney failure following an e-coli infection and it was a worrying time for our family. When creating the original window I tried to remember how I felt at that time, and what I would have liked to look at. That’s when I came up with the idea of a beautiful tree tunnel with light at the end as a symbol of hope. 

      I remembered a specific place we used to walk in the West Highlands that looked like that, and based the design on a photograph of it taken in the 80’s. Even by the time I was making the window, the actual view there had changed due to the invasive rhododendron being cut back. The path is no longer in a tunnel but has open views out to a sea loch. The aim of the window, though, was to say that even if we can’t see the view, or perhaps cannot see any way through at all, there is always hope, there is light at the end of the tunnel. 

      The new window is also heavily influenced by nature –  the design is based on one of the tree forms towards the right-hand side of the old window. The theme is the cycle of life: cell division and new life; hopeful green shoots; healthy leaves of memory; mature, permanent branches; loss and decay. During her research, Emma was struck by how much the old window was appreciated and how important it has been to individuals over the years. Using a similar colour palette and traditional stained glass techniques would anchor the memory of the old window in the new. 

      Tomorrow will be your last chance to catch the brilliantly received exhibition ‘Anatomy of Fleeting Moments’ at the Edinburgh Art Festival. Aptly set in the Anatomical Museum at the University of Edinburgh, artists Hans K Clausen and Kjersti Sletteland have collaborated with writer Jenni Fagan and over 700 individual participants, to present a fascinating exhibition set amidst the iconic and theatrical backdrop.

      The exhibition is free, and more details can be found on the Edinburgh Art Festival website.

      This weekend will see the final performances of ‘Where it Hurts’, directed by Jeremy Weller, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The show has been received to high acclaim, with the and The Skinny both awarding it 4 stars.

      The Scotsman named it as a highlight of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2018, while The Stage gave the show 5 stars, commending the way the show ‘nailed the zeitgeist’ in its portrayal of ‘compelling verbatim accounts of mental health crises, performed by those directly affected’.

      The final shows will be played this weekend at the Tech Cube, Summerhall, starting tonight a 20.30 and ending on Sunday. Book tickets here:

      Emma Varley’s ‘Dream-scape’ unfolds over six large scale light boxes which are a re-interpretation of the existing stained glass ‘A child’s garden of dreams’ found within the current Royal Hospital for Sick Children. Creative engagement with the patients inspired ideas of escapism, developing around stained glass and its ability to evoke reverence through the intensity of light as projected colour. 

      Using an overhead projector, Emma explored light collages, placing coloured glass, translucent papers, found and personal objects on the surface to create ‘dream-scapes’. The ‘dream-scapes’ were photographed and digitally enhanced then printed to film for light box installation. 


      The artworks are real and imagined; snapshots of a wider environment captured in portrait format to emphasise elements of strata linking to the surrounding environment. Flora and fauna dominate each scene; the hare perched high keeps watch over the meadows whilst being observed by the sun. A view over loch and glen with rabbit and swan who observe a single weed bearing its intricate root system, referencing energy and power echoed by wind turbines and the moon. Stag and eagle look towards the mountains protected by the willow pattern plate – a reference to dining, story telling, love and escapism. 

      The artwork will be installed in the building’s restaurant on the fourth floor which will be open to all.

      A series of wall graphics that were designed by artists working with patients and staff of NHS Lothian, led by Alison Unsworth, will be installed in our 200 locations in the new hospital building.  

      The designs build on the overall concept developed by HLM architects for the interior design of the building, based on five ‘layers of the landscape’; starting with an urban theme for the ground floor, moving through themes of rural, water, mountain and sky as one travels up through the building.

      Alison Unsworth has created designs for wall graphics within waiting areas and treatment rooms. These will provide distraction for patients and their families whilst they wait to be seen. Each puzzle provides multiple ways for staff to engage children in conversation whilst they are receiving treatment. Alison has created drawings of familiar items that you might find in your everyday environment, including bus tickets, drinking straws, paper bags, lolly sticks and revision cards. She has combined the drawings with familiar puzzle formats to create a range of unique picture puzzles. She has also created a series of ‘repeat pattern’ puzzles with drawings of coloured and patterned drinking straws. Patients are invited to work out which straws are missing from the gaps within each pattern.

      Rachel Duckhouse has created designs which run along the main hospital corridors on each floor of the building and assist wayfinding by highlighting key entrances to wards and departments. She has created a visual identity for each floor by combining a repeated shape in a carefully developed range of colours, patterns and textures. Rachel combines drawing and printmaking to produce her work. These designs use the techniques of lino cutting, screen printing and block printing. Each shape has been hand printed by the artist at Glasgow Print Studio. Hand production is evident throughout Rachel’s designs and imperfect edges are celebrated. Slight misalignment of individual shapes within a repeat pattern results in subtle variation of colour and texture created by overlapping areas.

      Artist and illustrator David Galletly has created designs for corridor walls, reception desks and staff desks within wards and departments. His work combines traditional pen and paper drawing with digital drawing, arrangement and layout. Black line drawings have incorporated one spot colour which corresponds with the landscape theme for each floor. Cityscapes of Edinburgh on the ground floor are populated by friendly giants and playful characters blowing giant bubbles. Details are revealed to the viewer as they spend time looking, with hidden elements to spot and find. 

      On the ‘rural’ first floor David’s designs show a landscape of leaves, trees and hills populated by animal and human characters with binoculars and telescopes. Elements of the cityscape from the ground floor below occasionally appear through the rural landscape. On the fourth floor rockets and paper aeroplanes leave trails of swirling lines through the sky.

      Natasha Russell has created a series of illustrative artworks combining landscapes, characters and narratives, reminiscent of storybook illustrations. She uses painting and printmaking to create images by hand. On the ground floor Natasha’s designs reflect Edinburgh through patterns created from tenement buildings and characters swinging from the National Monument on Calton Hill.

      On the second floor Natasha has created a series of designs inspired by the theme of water, focussing on the Firth of Forth. A striking blue and white image of gannets on Bass Rock will be displayed on a corridor wall, whilst a series of eight designs will be displayed on reception and staff desks across the second floor. Each of the desks depicts a different aspect of The Firth of Forth including Cramond Island, the Isle of May, bridges, diving, swimming and microfauna.

      Invitation to the launch of this year’s most talked about play at the Fringe 2018.

      Former NHS Artist in residence Jeremy Weller and The Cast invite you to be one of the select audience to help launch our latest production which celebrates the NHS in it’s 70th year.

      The performance will take place at Summerhall (1 Summerhall Place, Edinburgh) at 3pm on Sunday 29th July in TechCube Zero. We would advise you to be at the venue and seated for 2.45pm.

      To attend, please RSVP to Jeremy at [email protected]

      We very much look forward to you joining us at the beginning of our Festival journey.

      After designing and making the Sanctuary Stained Glass window for the Sciennes Road Royal Hospital for Sick Children in 1997, Emma Butler-Cole Aiken was commissioned to lead the design of the reinterpretation of the stained glass window project.

      The design of the new window is based on one of the tree forms towards the right-hand side of the old window. The theme is the cycle of life: cell division and new life; hopeful green shoots; healthy leaves of memory; mature, permanent branches; loss and decay. During her research, Emma was struck by how much the old window was appreciated and how important it has been to individuals over the years. Using a similar colour palette and traditional stained glass techniques would anchor the memory of the old window in the new.

      In the new window, interesting details and textures have been used to invite children and adults alike to look deeper. Smooth fused glass elements represent cells dividing, and intricate patterns are etched into the glass by sandblasting real leaves; the original leaf leaves its mark on the glass but is destroyed in the process. In painting the window, foliage and other items were used to print onto the glass. Whether people pass by or pause for a closer look, reflections from mirror and lustre glimmer.

      During the first stage of the project to design the interiors of the new RHSC’s CAMHS unit, designers Projects Office worked with artist James Leadbitter to develop an innovative design research strategy. Through a series of in-depth workshops with young service users, their parents, carers and NHS staff, they created new ways to explore the impact of space and environment on good mental health.  

      These fascinating sessions offered first-hand information about coping with mental health issues and emphasised the emotional and practical importance of well-designed environments. They helped the design team to define a range of comfortable and non-clinical spaces for young people suffering from significant distress.  

      This approach allowed stakeholders to engage with the project early in the design process. It also acknowledged the challenges of the project (two larger CAMHS units being combined on a single site) and aimed to alleviate the ‘consultation fatigue’ of stakeholders who felt their concerns had been sought but not addressed. The result is a collaboratively developed and cohesive set of designs which work hard to resolve the real challenges of the people who will use the space every day.


      A key question in their workshops was ‘What does good mental health feel like?’ in answer to which many participants described the coast. The theme of the sea was then woven into a narrative thread that unifies a wide variety of different spaces and programmes within the department. Referencing the landscape, colours and landmarks of the Scottish east coast the age-appropriate interiors gradually transform from vibrant seaside colours and motifs in spaces for the younger children to a more rugged offshore theme for the teenagers. The atmosphere is vibrant, friendly and non institutional without being artificially domestic or patronising.  

      From a lighthouse to retreat to, to a nook to watch from, to a personalisable shelving unit: the designers created innovative and unconventional healing spaces. These spaces drew directly from the results of their user engagement process and pushed the boundaries of established thought on the provision of mental health care environments with the input, support and enthusiasm of the CAMHS’ NHSL staff, patients and families.

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