Why art matters 60 Years, 60 Voices ‘I remember the feeling of joy these paintings brought to the space’ The Menier Gallery has provided invaluable support to Paintings in Hospitals for over a decade. The charity simply couldn't exist without it. Stephen, the Gallery Coordinator, gives us a little glimpse into his experience of clinical spaces and his work with the Menier Gallery… “ My first conscious experience of seeing artwork in a healthcare setting was visiting Kingston Hospital’s outpatient building for a check up on a small eye infection. This was due to contact lens problems that left my vision a little blurry. I vividly remember walking through the hospital. It was made up of dull beige and grey painted corridors and inhospitable rooms. All of a sudden, I came across a light-filled corridor displaying a selection of colourful paintings. It was a fantastic moment that felt uplifting and positive. I remember the feeling of joy these paintings brought to the space around them. Making contact with these hand-made objects felt like I had connected with humanity in an otherwise austere environment. The hospital seemed like such a vast space - somewhere that could easily host something creative, positive and uplifting as well as the necessary clinical treatments. Qualiart at the Menier Gallery Paintings in Hospitals aims to offer just that by helping to improve healthcare environments with visual art for the benefit of staff, visitors and patients. As the charity doesn't receive funding from government, it has always needed to raise a considerable amount to continue its important work every year. The Menier Gallery innovatively supports the Painting in Hospitals' fundraising efforts: every penny that hirers pay to use the gallery space goes towards Paintings in Hospitals' mission to inspire better health and wellbeing for people living and working in care. I joined the Paintings in Hospitals team five years ago and, as Gallery Coordinator for the Menier Gallery, my role is to oversee the smooth running of the many exhibitions and events that take place in our two striking gallery spaces. It is very rewarding to work with artists who support our mission and stage exciting exhibitions of contemporary art in our two gallery spaces. We held over forty exhibitions in 2019 alone: from 20th Century greats like Prunella Clough and Keith Vaughan to cutting-edge emerging artists. We currently work with several prestigious arts societies, schools, studios and collectives. Image courtesy of Dominic Harbour, whose artwork of ancient woodland featured in the Space, Place and Home exhibition at the Menier Gallery. Earlier in the year, we worked with Qualiart from Japan for their fourth exhibition in the gallery. They presented an eclectic range of work submitted by over 100 artists from Japan. We also hosted Space, Place and Home: a show that brought together a group of artists who make work in a variety of media, exploring ideas around location and environment. Every artist involved currently works for, or is closely connected with, Paintings in Hospitals and each showcased their own interpretation of the theme, highlighting their artistic practice outside of the charity's work. Due to the recent outbreak of coronavirus, we have temporarily closed the Menier Gallery's doors to the public to protect both our team and our visitors. But we truly believe that immersion in art is essential to everyone's health and wellbeing. That's why our doors will open again as soon as possible. ” Can you help us inspire better health for patients and carers across the country? Follow #60Voices on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram... Stephen Feather is Gallery Coordinator at the Menier Gallery. He oversees the many exhibitions and events in the Menier Gallery, raising funds to support Pintings in Hospitals' work. He also manages the smooth running of the Paintings in Hospitals London office. Stephen is a practising artist and graduated from Kingston University with a BA in Art, Architecture and Design History.