We interviewed Karen Landi, Nurse at the Speedwell Practice. She told us how she got funding to work with Paintings in Hospitals and why the arts are so important for mental health.

How did this project come about?

I was invited to take part in what's called the Care Program, which is a leadership program where you are given some time to think about project that you want to do.

The arts helped me personally through difficult times. I know it helps, especially when people are stressed and depressed. I put the project forward, got in contact with Paintings in Hospitals, and we decided to work with them. We involved care homes and all staff as well in choosing the paintings. We had about 15 paintings to choose from, I think. We had a vote and the top six were chosen.

Karen Landi

Could you describe the project/fellowship in your own words?

The funding was paid to the practice for my time. I thought that I would do the project in my own time and use that funding to fund the paintings themselves as we've got each of them for two years. The partners wanted for me to do it on their time, which I thought was fair enough. My husband’s firm sponsored four of the paintings; two were sponsored by GPs who had retired; and one was sponsored by the practice.

Why do you personally feel that the arts are so important in healthcare?

From my own experience, when my mum died in 2015, I found art helped me a lot.

I started up a little Instagram account. I paint pebbles and I hide them around everywhere. I've been doing that for ages now. I love researching and making a project. My husband doesn't like me spending all the money but never mind! It's really helped me and I thought it might help others.

Why do you feel this project is important?

There were a few points! Just in the choosing of the paintings, we actually got a lot of conversations going. We had people talking about which paintings they liked and why they like them. It was a really cohesive part of the process for the staff as well as for the care homes we involved. It was really good. Because the paintings are outside my door, since they’ve been up, I've heard so many people say “oh my God, I really like that!” as they walk past. We don't have anything up in the waiting room asking if you have blood in your poo or anything like that at the moment. It's all just the artworks.

The voting process at the Speedwell Practice

Why did you approach Paintings in Hospitals to help/what was it like working with us?

I can't remember exactly how. I thought about doing this project a few years ago and I had a contact, so I just emailed again. I've got a really nice response and everyone has been really helpful, even the chap that came to hang the pictures up. Every step along the way it's been really easy.

Hilary Adair, Hydra Courtyard. Part of the Paintings in Hospitals collection. On loan to the Speedwell Practice.

Installing the artworks at the Speedwell Practice

How do you think people responding to the artworks?

Initially people found them really calming and I think they probably still do. Because they've been up for a while now, there’s fewer conversations happening about the paintings because we’re so used to them! Our waiting rooms are really quiet because of Covid-19. We're not still inviting many people in. Nurses are seeing people all the time, but our waiting room isn't that busy place it once used to be. It's a quiet place at the moment so it's hard to get a feeling of what people think, but we haven't had any negative response from anybody about them!

Do you know how the project might evolve?

We've got a few bits that are waiting to go up on the wall. Last summer, I added a puzzle that's a massive rainbow. It's really colourful and lovely. That's going to go on the wall. I'd like to have a magnetic board for us to put butterflies with magnets on the back up on whenever someone comes in for a smear test. People would be able to see how many people come in for a smear, and at the end of every month we will have a tally of butterflies. We might do another one for babies and children who come in for their vaccinations.

Sarah Medway, March. Part of the Paintings in Hospitals collection. On loan to the Speedwell Practice.

Find out how to borrow artworks for your care spaces...