When I was in hospital, one of the things that made my days more cheerful and my walk around the wards more interesting was a lovely collection of pictures featuring whimsical, pretty, sweet and sometimes slightly odd scenes cut out of paper. I think they were made by Rob Ryan. If I’m wrong I apologise! You can read more about Mr Ryan in this article from the Independent Magazine. Among many other things, he did the cover illustration for The Book of Lost Things, which I read last year and liked a lot.
I wish I knew more about the circumstances of how the pictures came to be on the walls of the ward at the Brompton Hospital, but I think that they were (and hopefully still are) there as part of the rb&hArts initiative at the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust. rb&hArts is a charitable organisation that seeks to bring the arts into the hospital environment. During the rest of this year there are various events going on at the Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals: poetry readings, an exhibition of art work by staff and patients, recitals by students from the Royal College of Music and music by the Kosmos Ensemble. The organisation also commisions and installs art works around the hospitals, such as the pictures by Rob Ryan and a Poetry Wall that’s recently been unveiled in the bronchoscopy suite, and are working towards making singing part of the treatment programme for patients with respiritory conditions.
Having the opportunity to listen to live music or look at some art work is surely good for the soul, which in turn helps the physical healing process. Art in any form, be it pictures or music or poetry, can be a doorway to another place. For someone in hospital it can be a reminder that there’s more to life than the daily routine of injections and medication and tests. When I looked at the art work in the ward and around the hospital I could see that some people somewhere had taken the time and trouble to think about and choose art works that were interesting and beautiful and thought-provoking. It (as well as the lovely hospital staff) made me feel valued as a person, rather than just as a patient.