Harnessing the healing power of art

Tapping into the healing powers of art with Andrew Hewkin and St Andrew's honorary curator Dr Philip Hall
London artist Andrew Hewkin browses the gallery of images at St Andrew’s with Dr Philip Hall.

Well respected London artist Andrew Hewkin visited the hospital to discuss art and health earlier this year. Mr Hewkin is a former patient of Dr Tony Rahman who has started a liver service at St Andrew’s.

Mr Hewkin says art gives patients ‘hope’, something that many hospitals do not embrace as willingly as St Andrew’s.

“Some artists like to offer their work to hospitals to give patient’s hope…. but sadly, hospitals don’t always make the time or find the space to feature the works,” Mr Hewkin said.

Taking the charge on art at St Andrew’s is the hospital’s art collection’s honorary curator Dr Philip Hall.

Dr Hall says modern hospitals tend to be sterile while St Andrew’s aims to find the time and space to display art throughout its corridors.

“Art creates a visually engaging and positive healing environment,” Dr Hall said.

“In modern hospitals, white walls and bright lights and hustle and bustle can remove the humanity from a hospital.

“As evidence-based research shows, art improves a patients’ mood and they require less pain relief and will recover in a shorter time.”

Dr Hall added that art at the hospital is appreciated by staff, patients and their families.

“Staff have a keen interest in what has been hung on the walls. With each exhibition, I have multiple conversations with staff, ranging from the security and hospital staff, the porters to the nurses and doctors,” Dr Hall said.

“Art creates conversations and gets people who would not normally interact with each other, talking – whether that be they like the art or they hate it – art stimulates interaction.”