Support and care for those with mental health issues is something that all of us at SHOWstudio, including founder Nick Knight, care about deeply, so we are proud to support and spotlight the work of Hospital Rooms.
Founded by artist Tim A Shaw and curator and SHOWstudio alumnus Niamh White in 2016, Hospital Rooms is a registered charity that promotes the improved health and wellbeing of mental health service users by enhancing environments in hospitals with high quality art, design and creative activity. Their first initiative was a collaboration with South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust and focuses on the refurbishment of the Phoenix Unit at Springfield University Hospital in Tooting. The project saw Nick Knight, Assemble, Gavin Turk, Mark Power and Jo Coles, Sophie Clements, Steve Macleod, Aimee Parrott, Michael O'Reilly, Tim A Shaw and Joh Bates come together to create pieces for the unit with the aim of creating a comfortable and engaging space for the patients; in the founders’ words, 'a series of rooms that are engaging, beautiful and completely functional for day to day life.'
Hospital Rooms allocated spaces within the wards in which each of the artists involved could display their work. Each installation was accompanied by a workshop for residents that aims to increase understanding of the artwork and encourage individual creative practice.
Hospital Rooms’ belief that art can act as a therapeutic medium is shared by SHOWstudio director Nick Knight; 'Some of the most creative and accomplished people that I have known have encountered difficulty with their mental health at one stage or another. It seems to me that making vulnerable patients’ environments pleasant and stimulating is of the utmost importance and would be conductive to recover and recuperation.'
The refurbishment of The Phoenix Unit was the first of many projects Hospital Rooms will undertake. In 2018, Lara Johnson-Wheeler and Georgina Evans re-opened the project, interviewing artists and doctors about their work at Eileen Skellern 1 at the Maudsley Hospital in South London.