For the past four months I have had the pleasure of being commissioned by Artlink to work with staff and patients from the Royal Edinburgh hospital, Western General, St Johns and the Royal Infirmary. Part of this commission was to set a theme and create a exhibition of staff and patients work with my own working sitting alongside it.
As a part of the process I got to enter into the NHS archives at Edinburgh University. I read so many fascinating stories of patients and staff, their relationships and how the NHS looked over 100 years ago.
Combining historical narratives and modern narratives there appeared to be a common thread. The process of creating art appeared to be a form of escapism, whether it was to relax after a long shift or a way to come together in open studio sessions to socialise and share ideas.
Combining my research and experience of meeting people, I created a narrative that depicts a blackbird finding a thread. The blackbird was chosen based on research where in the 1800’s several patients took to birdwatching or collecting images of birds to pass their time whilst in hospital. I kept a record of the birds I saw as I travelled to the hospitals, and the blackbird made the most appearances. The blackbird takes the thread and passes it to another blackbird. The idea reflects the coming together of people to share ideas over coffee and tea, ideas being formed and coming into being.
I feel very lucky to have met so many different people from so many different walks of life. Hearing their stories, ideas being shared, watching art works come to life and the how the process brings people together, the artwork becoming the common thread.
The exhibition is now open to the public in The Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, in the link corridor, from the Anne Ferguson building to the Andrew Duncan building.
More images to come after official opening in a few weeks time.