Alison Underwood, our Loans Coordinator for South Wales, tells us all about her first project with the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital for Wales...

Having recently joined Paintings in Hospitals as Loans Coordinator for South Wales, I was excited that my first project was with the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital for Wales in Cardiff, where I had formerly been a Hospital Play Specialist.

Back then the children’s unit was simply a part of the main hospital. Today it is a fully-equipped hospital in its own right, but still linked via the infamous ‘train corridor’, named after a series of paintings displayed on it. It is here that artworks loaned from the Paintings in Hospitals collection are also on display.

The aim of this project was to give the children in the hospital the opportunity to choose some new artworks for their space.

I wanted the children to really feel part of the selection process and have fun experimenting with different techniques and creating their own artworks. Activities included using special art ‘bleeding’ tissue paper to experiment with colour blending and dot painting, using cotton buds to apply paint to create vibrant effects.

"I didn't even know animals could skateboard"

To really make their selections personal, they also had the opportunity to write their own labels, to be displayed alongside the original artworks, describing what they liked about their chosen artwork and how it made them feel.

The nature of a busy children’s hospital with multiple wards means that we must be flexible and adaptable. The activity was carried out over two workshops held in the surgical (Owl) and medical wards (Jungle). Altogether 19 young patients and their family members and 11 care staff took part in the workshop. Following lots of lively discussions, they settled on eight new artworks!

One of the key benefits for me was that by carrying out two workshops over a four-week period, I was able to play a part in the rehabilitation progress of one child in particular. On my first visit, he was unable to walk or talk following a brain injury but was able to point to the artwork he liked. On my second visit, he walked to the workshop and was able to tell me what he liked about the artwork. Huge progress in such a short amount of time. The workshops allowed him to see this and be proud and happy of his achievements.

Planning activities for the hospital environment can be a challenge. Many variables have to be considered: not all patients feel well enough to participate; treatments and doctors rounds can interrupt; sometimes there are just no patients around...

Today’s art made me happy.

None of this was unfamiliar to me, having worked in this environment before. The challenge on day two actually became a benefit all round. The ward playroom was closed for a deep clean and, consequently, the art workshop was particularly welcome by children and their families who enjoyed an extended session making their selections, writing labels and creating their own masterpieces.

Once the final selections were made, there was a real buzz of excitement in the air and everyone awaits the installation of the new artworks with eager anticipation.

Tia summed up the day: “Today’s art made me happy.”

Find out more about our art activities or contact us now...