Hospitals have a reputation for being stark, unwelcoming environments. For kids who have to visit or stay at hospitals, this lack of warmth and friendliness can make even a short stay more stressful. Vital Arts, a British arts organization tasked with bringing art into hospital settings, recently turned the London Royal Children’s Hospital into a vibrant and bright place that resembles a children’s play space more than a medical center.
Fifteen artists were called to work on this extensive project, and they successfully transformed the typically sterile hospital space into a vibrant and visually appealing place where children can focus on healing. Each of the fifteen artists was given as specific area to decorate, including reception areas, play spaces, elevator lobbies, and various ward settings, and their diversity in vision is inspiring. From pastoral settings to almost carnivalesque backdrops to brightly colored creatures painted along the hallways, Vital Arts incorporated painted illustrations, wood pieces, porcelain sculptures, and other 3D design elements to create the perfect background for kids to daydream and escape from their fears and worries. The play space is filled with light, and the huge brightly colored blocks and enormous animal figures add a fanciful and welcoming vibe to make the perfect temporary escape for the young patients.
The artists drew on their personal inspirations and influences to create distinct spaces, all of which echo with warmth and a kid-friendliness seldom found in any hospital setting. For some artists, the creative process was a collaborative one: Katharine Morling spent several weeks speaking with patients and discussing their favorite toys and memories. She then turned those discussions and sketches into porcelain sculptures. The artists thoughtfully included sweet details throughout the process, including hospital room divider curtains decorated with transporting outdoors scenes. Of course, animals of all sorts and bright pops of color feature prominently in the artistic designs, adding a whimsical element to even the most basic hospital space.