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Ham and High, July 5, 2002.
Cleaners at the Royal Free Hospital usually go unnoticed as they tidy up after the hundreds of patients, staff and visitors who use it every day. But one artist was so intrigued by their work that he wants to paint their picture.
Simon Black became artist in residence at the hospital in Pond Street, Hampstead,
last year after winning a competition. He was given access to all areas and departments
of the busy hospital -
Royal Free anagers are among the few NHS trusts in the country to commission an artist
to work on-
Since taking on the commission Mr. Black has been taking photographs in the laundry
department, operating theatre and children's ward to get a feel for the place. "It
felt a real sense of privilege at seeing and experiencing the things I did," said
The painter has just begun work on his first two pieces. One is a 4ft cnavas depicting surgeons about to enter the operating theatre, the other of medics on the children's ward. Once completed they will take pride of place on the walls of the Royal Free. The hospital is expected to eventually commission a further two paintings. "It didn't matter what job people did," Mr. Black explained. "After spending time with every department it was obvious that they were all dependent upon each other to make sure the hospital runs as well as it does." He said it was "very unusual to be commissioned by a hospital" but believes other trusts will soon catch on to the idea.
"Art is a good way of creating a calm atmosphere so it's ideal in a hospital setting where people might be nervous," he said.
Sarah Harrison, Ham and High.