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Commissioning an artwork. Hospital art - an insight into the process

Updated: Jul 28, 2021

Commissioning an artwork can take many forms. Currently I am in the process of working on a hospital arts project. They have commissioned an artwork for Gloucester Royal Hospital's mental health in crisis room. When I announced I was doing the project people asked me to share how it was going so here goes...

Today I held the creative consultation sessions for the artwork being created for GRH mental health in crisis room. The session was invaluable! It was fantastic that staff and experts by experience (people who have previously used the space) took their free time to help out.

You might be wondering what on earth a creative consultation is. In this case it was simply about using creative methods to unlock conversations to understand the needs, wants and hopes for the space.

It's quite daunting for participants to be faced with a creative challenge when they don't see themselves as creative. So I always start off the session with simple annotations on images and discussions relevant to the project. For this one we looked at the current space, how it feels, how it’s used, how long patients are in there, what’s on the walls, what’s the lighting like, furniture. We spoke about what wouldn’t work, what colours might be triggers.

However, I don't just ask the negatives, I ask if there is anything they do like, is there something that works well. In this case the size of the room was important.

We also focused on the changed space. What they wanted it to do, what they wanted it to feel like. We spoke about themes, colours, textures, shapes. Slowly things emerged...

“to feel there is hope” “A special place” “to feel held, i’ve got you” “a pause” “being looked after” “a safe space in the chaos”

For the main creative element they weren’t expected to create the artwork. This was met with some relief by the participants! Instead I tasked them with creating a mood board of colours, patterns and shapes that they find soothing. They had a collection of paints, pencils and imagery. They could add text or simply create collages of colours. For one group this task made them fall silent as they carefully selected items, examining and annotating what they found. For the other group there was non stop conversations about the space.

They were all given the same varied ranges of colours to pick from. A rainbow of colours from deep dark tones to muted neutrals- most had the same pictures cut into sections. Their final boards were different but also very similar themes and styles, which was a relief! Blues, lighter minimal areas, calming colours, areas of simplicity and areas to focus on a natural themes but leaning towards the sea rather than tree's.

I rounded it off with a simple evaluation exercise.. another slightly creative one as no one likes questionnaires. Everyone had to pick an object they felt drawn to and using that object answer today i feel the session made me...

“feel like i am contributing to an important process” “think! pause reflect and feel hopeful”

I finished my day by popping over to the hospital to look at the room. It was exactly how they described it. I was itching to get started and now I can’t wait to make some kind of improvement!

The words, the collages and all the input from staff and patients make me feel so honoured to be working on this project! But it shows how important the consultation process is. By asking staff and experts by experience to create work that makes them feel relaxed- it helps shape and inform the work that I will make. Yes I will be painting it but their input is what will make that space special.

So, my next step is to take all of this and start creating! Wish me luck!! I will update you with another blog post soon!


I was approached for this project and asked to submit a response to an artist brief, shortlisted and then attended a panel interview. If you would like to know how I could work with you on similar projects please use the contact form on the website or email


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