Established in London in 1959, Paintings in Hospitals now works across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. They have developed a diverse art collection of almost 4,000 artworks and, as well as four artwork loan schemes, deliver art engagement projects and creative activities.
Paintings in Hospitals do more than simply put paintings in hospitals. They believe that art has an important role to play in the healing process.
The artwork outside the learning and resource centre in York Hospital and in the corridor downstairs is part of the ‘open store’ for Paintings in Hospitals where people can come to select artworks to loan.
You can find out more about the organisation >here<
Steven Oliver – January 2017….
In 2015 I was approached by Jacob van der Beugel in my role as a member of the University of York Epidemiology and Cancer Statistics Group (ECSG) research group. He was interested in an artists in residence scheme being supported by the University and in developing an art work that related to the work. We focus our research predominantly on ‘Blood Cancers’ a complex mixture of different malignancies including leukaemias, lymphomas, myeloma.
Jacob came to visit our research group on 3-4 occasions across the year and met with researchers, laboratory staff, clinicians and patients.
He had come with an initial metaphor ‘concrete cancer’ which describes the situation where the integrity of concrete chemically deteriorates, potentially exposing structural metal reinforcement and leading to the failure of structures.
The work of the ECSG is broad in scope and we talked about many aspects of this – but the element that caught his imagination was the work we had done on the social patterning of survival for patients with blood cancers. Essentially, the fact that patients from poorer backgrounds have shorter survival – not unusual, but normally made more complex by the fact that poorer people are more likely to develop cancer, which isn’t the case for blood cancers.
We talked a lot about the processes and methods of observational epidemiology in which we seek to accurately represent patterns and distributions of disease in populations and some of the challenges that this poses.
An example of the way we’d normally present such patterns – survival curves for patients with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia by the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) for the area they live at diagnosis (1-3 more affluent, 4-5 less affluent)
In the end Jacob represented both these ideas and the methods of epidemiology in a ‘diptych’ of two panels – one representing the ‘world as it is’ and one representing the way in which epidemiologists model observed data. He used concrete as an example of a medium that was associated both with high prestige constructions (when polished) and in cheap functional structures where the finish might be rough. He used rust to represent blood trails – and in a way we often use in teaching – showed the length of life by the length of the path.
In ‘Pathways of Patients II’ the shorter, ‘rougher’ experience of patients from less advantaged areas in our regional population is clearly contrasted with the longer, smoother, tracks of those from less deprived areas. The same pattern is present in ‘Pathways of Patients I’, but (as in a real population) the mixture of exposures initially obscures this. The ‘science’ of epidemiology is in part that restructuring of data to reveal the patterns within it.
You can see more of Jacob’s work at his website – this link will take you to more pictures of the pieces, and also some of the artist’s thoughts about it.
“We have to take a good hard look at our own attitude toward death and dying before we can sit quietly and without anxiety next to a terminally ill patient.“
This quote refaces the attached article:
Looking at the Dying Patient: The Ferdinand Hodler Paintings of Valentine Godé-Darel
Pestalozzi BC. Journal of Clinical Oncology, Vol 20, No 7 (April 1), 2002: pp 1948-1950
The Swiss artist Ferdinand Hodler created a sequence of paintings documenting the death of his young lover Valentine. In the words of the article author ‘He created a series of paintings that force the viewer to face the process of dying. It may be helpful to an oncologist to sense his or her reaction to these visual stages of suffering.’
Click on the article for more of the sequence of paintings…
The Sick Child touches on the fragility of life. It draws upon Munch’s personal memories, including the trauma of his sister’s death, and visits to dying patients with his doctor father. He described the 1885 painting as ‘a breakthrough in my art’ and made several subsequent versions, of which this is the fourth.
Acquired by the city of Dresden in 1928, it was displayed in the Gemäldegalerie. A decade later, the Nazis declared that Munch’s art was ‘degenerate’ and, in November 1938, all his works in German public collections were collected in Berlin for auction. The Norwegian dealer Harald Holst Halvorsen secured as many as possible, including The Sick Child, and returned them safely to Oslo. Thomas Olsen bought the painting in 1939 and gave it to the Tate. Norway fell to the Germans in 1940. Looking back, Olsen explained that his gift was stimulated by ‘my knowledge, from talks with Munch, that he felt the need of recognition in Western Europe, especially so after the advent of Hitler.’
The Broken Column 1944
Museo Dolores Olmedo Patino Mexico (Mexico City, Mexico)
© Banco de México and INBAL Mexico, 2004
The Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907–1954) brought many influences into her work, from folklore, politics and religion – but a central theme was her own body and the consequences of a terrible traumatic road traffic injury in her youth.
The following link is to a Tate Modern exhibition in 2005 of her work – a good introduction to her work and influences.
Alan and Marcia Emery present a superb collection of over fifty pieces of art, reflecting the physician’s role in society and the relationship between doctor and patient.
Medicine and Art contains an international selection of artworks, tracing both the history of art and the development of medicine from the Ancient Greeks to the present day, illustrating changing perceptions and applications of medicine, through varied styles and artistic media.
Each work of art is accompanied by a short essay describing the history of the artist and the subject of the artwork. The full colour illustrations and detailed Appendix of further artworks depicting specific medical conditions make this book a unique treasure trove of information for all who share the authors’ love of art, history and medicine. This intriguing book evolved from a series of articles written and researched by Alan Emery about art and medicine in Clinical Medicine, the journal of the Royal College of Physicians of London
Publisher: Royal Society of Medicine Press
Steven Oliver HYMS: This is a beautiful book, with some brilliant reproductions and a fascinating documentation and perspective on the way doctors and medicine have been represented in art over time. The image below is included in the book from the Wellcome Library collection >link<, it is called ‘Sentence of Death‘ painted in 1908 by John Collier and represents the moment a young man is told by his physician that he is going to die. We can only speculate which terminal illness it was that was being imagined, capable of killing a young Edwardian man: cancer, tuberculosis or perhaps syphilis?
Cradle to Grave explores our approach to health in Britain today. The piece incorporates a lifetime supply of prescribed drugs knitted into two lengths of fabric, illustrating the medical stories of one woman and one man.
Each length contains over 14,000 drugs, the estimated average prescribed to every person in Britain in their lifetime. This does not include pills we might buy over the counter, which would require about 40,000 pills each.
Cradle to Grave is displayed in the British Museum in the ‘Living and Dying’ exhibition room (The Wellcome Trust Gallery)
There is an excellent website that explores the artwork in more detail and lets you look individually at the ‘man’ and ‘woman’ whose stories are told in the piece.>click here<
Just as an example of some of the patterns represented in the work the two screen grabs below show the pills consumed before the age of 50 – with the impact of contraceptive pill use apparent simply in the longer band for the woman (don’t worry the man soon catches up!)
Medium Oil on canvas
Size 195.58 x 243.84 cm
The painting is at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh
The men represented in this painting are professors in the Department of Surgery and Molecular Oncology at Ninewells Hospital and Medical School in Dundee. The Head of Department and Professor of Surgery, Sir Alfred Cuschieri, is in the centre. Sir David Lane, Professor of Molecular Oncology is on the right. On the left is surgeon Professor Steele. All three men appear to have been disturbed in the middle of their duties: Professor Steele has blood on his hands and Sir Alfred Cuschieri is holding a medical implement. The luminous quality of the paint makes the figures look almost ghostly, expressing the sense of horror and anxiety associated with cancer.
Oil and pencil
54.6 x 36.8 cm
Between 1947 and 1949, Barbara Hepworth produced around 80 works of surgeons at work in operating theatres. This period of activity followed the friendship that resulted from the hospitalisation of the daughter of Hepworth (and Ben Nicholson) with the surgeon who treated her at the Elizabeth Orthopaedic Hospital, Exeter: Norman Capener.
You can see a selection of these works here; and there is a good review of the paintings here – including a short video-clip – when they were exhibited together at the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield