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NHS Forth Valley Residency

NHS Forth Valley in Central Scotland hosted this visual arts residency in November and December 2013, followed by an exhibition of my resulting work in the atrium and public spaces at Forth Valley Royal Hospital between April and August 2014, and concluding with a large projection screening in October 2014.

Slide show produced by Sav Kyriacou, duration 5min 26sec

The residency was developed, and financially supported by Artlink Central, a participatory arts organisation, which brings professional artists into contact with patients and the public. The residency was designed to ‘look behind the scenes’ of this large 1000 bed acute hospital as well as work directly with older patients in the mental health unit. Continuing the tradition of working from unusual spaces, I was given a former reception desk area in Corporate Services to use as my “studio space”, and worked closely with Babs McCool, Charitable Arts and Wellbeing Officer at the hospital, who assisted me with introductions to the various departments across the hospital.

Wheelchairs in the corridor Wheelchairs in the corridor – pen on acetate

From this base I explored many areas of the hospital including: pathology, hospital records, the canteen and public waiting areas, and the hidden world of the robots as they delivered meals and collected clinical waste along miles of corridor underneath the ground floor.

Robot parking bay Robot parking bay – pen on acetate

A fortuitous event was the discovery of some medical X ray light-boxes languishing in various corners around the hospital. Now redundant technology, due to the digitising of Xrays, they presented the perfect creative opportunity to both develop and display my work in a form that both referenced the hospital setting and was a portable and practical method of presentation.

Scrubs nurse on x-ray light box Medical X ray light box showing a selection of Sally's drawings of a theatre practitioner demonstrating the handwashing protocol before an operation – coloured pen on acetate

I used acetate to draw on and then display in layers and collections using the boxes. I drew people doing their jobs in the canteen, the labs, and offices and loading bays, and the results (pinned daily to the boxes) were seen as they emerged and developed by staff and colleagues through the residency.

A cluster of white coats A cluster of white coats, one with a chunky notebook, Microbiology dept, Forth Valley Royal Hospital – pen on acetate

I also ran participative drawing workshops around the grounds of the hospital forest with residents at Loch View and was also invited by Artlink Central and HMP Cornton Vale to facilitate a one day drawing installation with over 100 women in the prison grounds.

At the end of my residency at the hospital my works were put on display around the atrium, digitised and viewable and downloadable online and the drawings were projected at the inaugural screening of NHS Forth Valley’s ‘Wall of Wellbeing’ (winter arts and health projections on a 30 x 40m wall) in October 2014. At the request of the hospital records department, one of my large scale acetate drawings is now fittingly hanging in the corridor of trolleys where it was originally made.

Trolleys and drawings in situ Trolleys and acetate drawing in situ, Records Dept Forth Valley Royal Hospital

Babs McCool, Charitable Arts and Wellbeing Coordinator, Forth Valley Royal Hospital, who hosted the residency said: “Spotting and then negotiating use of the light-boxes at the start was an innovative start to the residency and the exhibition of the drawings on the light-boxes the following April was very popular with the public, particularly the drawings of staff both serving and relaxing in the canteen, which brilliantly captured, with their fluidity of line and acute observation, subjects’ physiognomies and personalities.

We ran an event at the end of the residency to celebrate Sally’s representation of the life of the hospital, which older patients who had been involved in workshops, attended (a long and tiring distance from the ward), as well as staff, such was the artist’s popularity after a just one month.

This residency was an example of good practice with the artist delivering the brief in exciting accessible and sensitive way, developing very positive working relationships with patients and staff, being self-contained, flexible and respectful of the healthcare environment and using the dynamics and constraints of the new hospital to create a new body of work.

The residency was and continues to be beneficial: the works have been used in presentations by health science and patients’ records’ staff and the hospital’s facilities management contractor, Serco. They are also currently being incorporated into a series of therapeutic design commissions in the mental health unit as part of a rolling programme of artworks in interview, visiting and patient conference spaces”.

We would like to thank everyone who appears in the drawings.

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