Our Relationship & Development Manager Janet Bates on why our charity is a lifeline for people who access healthcare sites

How long have you been with Paintings in Hospitals? What is your role in your own words?

I have been with Paintings in Hospitals for nine years. I first joined when I graduated second time round. I worked in magazine publishing for 25 years and I left when I got to a stage where I didn’t want to do anymore. I went to pursue a degree in Fine Art, something I had always wanted to do. I did a foundation for a year and then did a three-year degree. I really wanted to work freelance and work with something related to art, and then I got the job at Paintings in Hospitals. I’ve been here ever since. My role has changed quite a bit: now I am Relationship & Development Manager. I’m a bit of an ambassador. My main focus is developing the relationships we already have with healthcare sites, as well as developing new business and new relationships with sites that don’t currently have artworks or arts and health participation, convincing them of the benefits of arts in healthcare and what we do. Between myself and Dominic, we’re managing all of the 200+ sites we currently have. Now, we have started developing ways in which we can engage people with the artwork. It’s much more of a participatory event. Our focus has moved to how we can engage people with the art once we’ve installed an artwork, and how we can run activities that will improve their mental and physical wellbeing.

How would you describe what the charity does?

I think the charity provides a lifeline for lots of people who will access healthcare sites. It brings another dimension to where they are, gives them somewhere they can lose themselves, that can reduce the anxiety and the stress. I think we touch people’s lives in ways that we sometimes don’t even consider ourselves.

When you get to talk to people you’ve worked with in a participatory event, you realise you’ve made a difference to them as individuals and to their experience of healthcare.

Janet with residents taking part in a Paintings in Hospitals art workshop at Arthur Rank Hospice

In your opinion, what is the most important thing that Paintings in Hospitals does?

For me, it would be accessibility. I want us as a charity to be accessible to everyone. There are vast areas of the country that have no arts in health input at all and I think accessibility is the thing. Those of us who have done the participatory activities have seen first-hand how important it is to everybody to get people involved. It’s how we can make a difference to them.

Why do you work for Paintings in Hospitals? What is it you think the charity can ultimately achieve as we work together?

I believe in what the arts can do.

Again, when you do participatory events or you talk to people about artworks, that’s when you realise that it really does make a difference. I ran a workshop at a care home with somebody who had very limited speech and mobility and didn’t want to engage. He came along to a sculptural workshop. When I left, somebody said to me they didn’t think they had ever seen him so moved by something before. He was so engaged with it. They said, when we go back and tell his carer how he’s loved doing this, she’ll be really pleased. I remember coming home and thinking if my day has been just that one person that I’ve made a difference for, then that’s a really good day for us.

What do you like most about working at Paintings in Hospitals?

I obviously love the artwork collection. I think we have a fabulous collection. I like the variety of our work. I like the fact that I’m working with people, our relationships, at the front end. I enjoy using art, something that is important in my life, for my job. I’m very lucky to do so.

What is your favourite piece in the collection?

My favourite picture in the collection is called Snow at Bramfield. It’s quite a cold snowy scene, it’s beautifully painted and it’s always been one of my favourites. It’s by John Akers. Funnily enough, it’s one that I was talking about with Alice (Collection Coordinator). She said it isn’t chosen to go out on loan very often! After speaking with me, Alice said she’d try to put it up in the office somewhere. If you like an artwork and it means something to you, that’s a good reason to keep it.

John Akers, Snow at Bramfield. Part of the Paintings in Hospitals collection.

John Akers, Snow at Bramfield. Part of the Paintings in Hospitals collection.