Paintings in Hospitals is committed to supporting student mental health and nurturing emergent talent to shape the future of arts-in-health in the UK. In 2017, we partnered with the internationally-renowned art school Central Saint Martins to begin a three-year project.

There is a mental health crisis in higher education. A quarter of students experience psychological distress, associated with an increased risk of anxiety and depression. And, in the last ten years, the number of students dropping out of degree courses due to mental illness has trebled. Our Art in Large Doses project in collaboration with Central Saint Martins sees three consecutive years of first-year BA students explore ways in which art can support the physical and mental health of their peers, while also pushing the boundaries of what is expected of art in healthcare settings.

Photo: Glenn Michael Harper

Students from the BA (Hons) Culture, Criticism and Curation course at Central Saint Martins attended a series of lectures and workshops on arts and health before they were asked to propose an exhibition to support the wellbeing of patients and care staff. The exhibition proposals were then showcased at the Menier Gallery, London, during Creativity and Wellbeing Week before one proposal was selected by patients and staff of King's College NHS Health Centre to be realised as an exhibition at the health centre later that year.

Photo: Glenn Michael Harper

The final selected proposal for 2017, Nature Calls, was realised as an exhibition at the Centre from 10 November 2017 - 31 May 2018. The exhibition combined works from the Paintings in Hospitals collection with three tongue-in-cheek micro installations. The final exhibition for 2018 was Bathed in Blue, again selected by patients and staff of King's College London NHS Health Centre. And for the final year of the project, The Green Room exhibition proposal was selected to go on display at the health centre from 5th February 2020 until 31st January 2021. 

Jess Reeves, Cyanotype B (left) and Kate Wixley, 100 Lengths. Part of the Bathed in Blue exhibition, the finale of Art in Larger Doses.

Kate Friend, Raspberry Leaf, 2019

Kate Friend, Raspberry Leaf, 2019. Part of The Green Room exhibition, the finale of Art in Largest Doses.

Amisha Karia, Head of Collections & Programming at Paintings in Hospitals, said:

“We’re really excited to be supporting emerging curators from Central Saint Martins and helping to push the boundaries of what is expected of art in our public health spaces. Using art to create care environments that encourage, enrich and empower people is key to safeguarding the wellbeing of patients, services users and care staff across the UK. We look forward to seeing the bold and original ideas of these talented students that will ultimately shape the future of arts in health.”

Photo: Glenn Michael Harper

Andrew Marsh, course leader for BA (Hons) Culture, Criticism and Curation at Central Saint Martins, said:

“Over a period of three years, Art in Large Doses has given us the opportunity to consider how we can address issues of mental health through curated projects. This collaboration allowed students to hone their professional curatorial skills as well as consider different audiences in a healthcare context. The project has resulted in around 150 students considering arts in relation to health and wellbeing, three outstanding exhibitions at the Health Centre and over 14,000 patients experiencing the work of young emerging artists alongside works from the Paintings in Hospitals collection.”

Find out more about Paintings in Hospitals projects...