Location: Risca Surgery, Newport

“I love this idea! Obviously, the cat is my favourite...I have six!”

About the Project

Art in doctors’ surgeries can create welcoming waiting rooms and care spaces that ease anxiety and stress for both patients and care staff. In 2015, Paintings in Hospitals co-wrote CQC guidance on art for GP practices. We currently work with over 30 practices across the country. From 2018 we worked with Risca Surgery in Wales to introduce art into their spaces. Risca Surgery is a busy practice serving around 300-400 patients per day. There are 30 staff including doctors, nurses, nurse practitioner, pharmacist, and admin staff. The surgery’s modern building had large empty walls in the waiting areas and consultation rooms. Staff were particularly keen on using art to inspire better health and wellbeing throughout the surgery.

Remote activity worksheets created for Risca Surgery based on artworks from their Paintings in Hospitals display.

Remote activity worksheets created for Risca Surgery based on artworks from their Paintings in Hospitals display.

The Activities

Our project began by involving Risca Surgery’s patients and staff in the selection and curation of new artwork displays for their care spaces. We wanted to include as many people as possible in the process, so Paintings in Hospitals ran a day-long voting station at the surgery. The voting station was accompanied by a display of artwork images. Here our Loans Coordinator answered questions and provided information about the artworks and artists on display. They encouraged staff and patients to talk about the art: how it made them feel; why they would or would not want to see it displayed in the surgery. Paintings in Hospitals also created voting forms on paper and online to reach patients and staff not available on the day or did not feel comfortable speaking directly about their feelings. We collated and counted the votes to produce the final selection of 16 artworks for the surgery. As well as facilitating the selection of artworks for the surgery, this activity was also designed to:

  • Help stimulate confidence in participants and facilitate open and honest discussion about art, about their mental health, and about their care/work spaces;
  • To provide information and learning on how art can contribute to health and wellbeing.

Staff at Risca Surgery discussing their votes on art for their waiting areas and cnsultation rooms.

Staff at Risca Surgery discussing artworks for their waiting areas and consultation rooms.


Groups of patients and staff took part in lively discussions at the voting station throughout the day. People enjoyed the experience of talking about art and voicing their opinions about what they liked and did not like. Many also felt free to express emotions related to the artwork images and how they affected their mood and feelings in the space.

Reg Cartwright, Owl. Part of the Paintings in Hospitals collection.

Reg Cartwright, Owl. Part of the Paintings in Hospitals collection on display at Risca Surgery.

The final selection of 16 artworks that would make the biggest impact to patient and staff wellbeing went on display at Risca Surgery and continue to receive positive feedback. Options for more art engagement activities, including further artmaking workshops inspired by the final selection, are available to ensure continued interaction and the making of meaningful connections with the art.

Art can brighten spaces, reduce anxiety and stress for patients, and provide positive distractions... It is something to be encouraged.

Nigel Sparrow, Senior National GP Advisor, CQC

Next Steps

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Paintings in Hospitals offered further support to Risca Surgery’s patients and staff. Working to support the surgery’s current aims, we put together a remote engagement activity to provide a creative outlet for children and their families, particularly those dealing with home-schooling. The worksheets on offer are bilingual and feature representations of three artworks from the Risca Surgery display, including Owl and Cat by Reg Cartwright. The worksheets offer simple information and colouring activities along with additional instructions for creating personal artworks. While specifically created for Risca Surgery, these worksheets are designed to support wellbeing for everyone and are available for download here.

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