In 2012 Paintings in Hospitals commissioned Danish artist Anne Harild to take up residence in the Paediatric Haematology department of St Mary’s Hospital.

During her residency, Anne explored and transformed the environment of St Mary’s Hospital. Over four months, she invited young patients from the department to engage with her creative process through animation workshops.

Young patients who suffered from leukaemia and other cancers saw their imagined shapes and characters come to life in front of them through simple animations created in collaboration with Anne, often at their bedside. Here, Anne describes what happened after those workshops and how she responded to her experience through a new animated work.

As the workshops in the paediatric unit at St Mary's have come to an end, I have spent some time looking through the work from the workshops as well as my own photographs and research, trying to make sense of this and finding the right way to move forward.

I set out to explore and discover the materials in the architecture of the hospital and let the workshops become experiments and tests to discover and disrupt the grid of this place whilst becoming a source for our work.

Through the workshops, I have met some lovely and talented young people and have consistently been surprised and inspired by the work we have produced under such difficult circumstances. I always set out to explore the language of the building but one of the things that I had not anticipated was the way in which we would use the hospital as a scene or a set and directly respond to it in the films.

A still from a young patients animation, created in partnership with Danish artist Anne Harild. A Paintings in Hospitals residency project.

This intuitive play with space and the interplay between the inside and outside is something I would like to explore further in my own work. I am also interested in the way we have explored order and arrangements of form and material and the way we visually understand the modern world, in an intuitive manner, not always planning much but reacting to shape and the surrounding architecture.

Finally, I am very excited about the way in which we have managed to create something almost magical out of very mundane hospital materials. These are some of the notes I aim to explore in my final work.

Work In Progress

I have been experimenting with various materials and settings over the last week, trying to establish a framework for the animation. I want the work to have an explicit reference to the architecture and the place which informed it. I have created a neutral space loosely informed by the hospital, not to mirror this place rather to perhaps underline the sterile and neutral nature of it.

Anne Harild experiments

I have also been experimenting with various grids that can act as a vessel or system which my ideas can react to, unfold in, mirror and break loose from.

Anne Harild experiments

Light will play an important part in the film setting the pace and highlighting flatness and form, altering and shifting our perception of space constantly. Moving between structural diagrams, the folding and mirroring of the grid and the materiality of things inserted into it.


I have now finished producing the animated film. This residency has been an incredible experience that has enabled me to further my practice and push it into new directions. I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone I have worked with at Paintings in Hospitals and at the paediatric department of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust (St Mary's Hospital).

Most importantly I would like to thank all the talented patients and supportive parents and carers I have worked with during this project, it was great to meet you all!

Find out about other Paintings in Hospitals projects…

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