Why art matters 60 Years, 60 Voices ‘A Tale of Two Collections’: Jodie Edwards on the history of Arts Council Collection and Paintings in Hospitals Paintings in Hospitals has worked with the Arts Council Collection to bring museum-quality artworks into healthcare over a period of 42 years (so far). Jodie Edwards, Loans Coordinator at the Arts Council Collection, tells us all about this perfect match… “ The story of the partnership between the Arts Council Collection and Paintings in Hospitals is essentially an old-fashioned love story. It starts off slow, there’s a bit of a rocky patch in the middle, but it eventually blossoms into something beautiful, destined to last happily ever after. As with all good stories, I’ll start by setting the scene. The Arts Council Collection is the UK’s largest national loan collection of modern and contemporary British art. There are nearly 8,000 works in the collection which we lend to museums, galleries and public organisations across the UK and internationally. We don’t have a gallery space of our own, so try and lend works as broadly as possible to ensure everyone gets a chance to enjoy what’s in the collection. You may not have heard of us before but it’s highly likely that you will have seen one of our works. Colin Hayes, Oxford Roofs, January 1947, 1947. Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © the artist The Arts Council Collection has been working with Paintings in Hospitals since 1977 when we lent them Colin Hayes’ painting Oxford Roofs. In the context of our story, consider this the first date. A year later, we lent Mountain Tarn by Augustus Lunn, quickly followed by the loans of Eric Rutherford’s Xenio and Thomas Hennell’s Snow Scene in 1986 and 1988. It was evidently the start of something good. However, as is often the way, we lost touch and over time our budding partnership seemed to fizzle out. Fast forward 26 years and, much to our delight, Paintings in Hospitals got back in touch. This time, it’s serious. In the space of seven years, we have lent nearly 100 works to Paintings in Hospitals, who in turn lend them out to hospitals and healthcare sites across the country. We not only know that our works are out there in the world for people to enjoy but, through the work of Paintings in Hospitals, we know just how beneficial interacting with these artworks can be for both the mental and physical wellbeing of care users. It really is a match made in heaven. Eric Rutherford, Xenio, 1963. Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © the artist In 2018, both the Arts Council Collection and Paintings in Hospitals felt it was high time we celebrated the strength of our partnership. To coincide with the Arts Council Collection’s 70th and Paintings in Hospitals’ 60th anniversaries, we began working on a touring exhibition drawn from works within the Arts Council Collection. There was much healthy debate about what focus the exhibition should take, but in the end, we settled on landscapes - a topic that artists have been exploring for centuries. Being in the landscape and being in touch with nature have proven benefits to health and wellbeing, so we wanted to ensure we captured this in environments where people may not be able to experience the physical landscape for themselves. We worked together to select a range of works which not only represent the natural landscape in a traditional sense but also those which push the boundaries of what a landscape can be. Take Barry Flanagan’s Grass I as an example - a highly detailed close-up photograph of a patch of grass. While not the rolling hills and valleys we may be used to seeing in landscape painting, this work is still very much a depiction of a landscape, albeit one on a macro scale. Similarly, Willesden, London, 1979 by Lewis Ambler also challenges our conception of landscape. This photograph of a fence panel at the bottom of a garden may be a mundane sight for many of us, but the garden is equally one of our most commonly encountered landscape environments and one that many people can directly relate to. Marc Quinn, Garden² (no.7), 2000. Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London. © Marc Quinn The exhibition, Rooted in the Landscape, launched in June 2018 in Paintings in Hospitals’ very own Menier Gallery before travelling on to Dorset County Hospital. It’s currently installed at Yeovil District Hospitals and will go on to tour to Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton and Southmead Hospital in Bristol. Rooted in the Landscape may be the pinnacle of our tale so far, but it is by no means the end of the story. The exhibition has helped to cement the existing partnership between the Arts Council Collection and Paintings in Hospitals and sets the scene for a continued collaborative approach in the future. It may have taken a little while to get here, but this is now only the beginning! Here’s to another 60 years of Paintings in Hospitals, and another 60 years of partnership! To be continued... ” Find out more about Paintings in Hospitals' major partnerships with museums, galleries and collections… Follow #60Voices on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram... Jodie Edwards is the Loans Coordinator for the Arts Council Collection. You can follow the work of the Collection on Twitter (@A_C_Collection) and Instagram (@artscouncilcollection).