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Art exhibition opens ahead of Whitchurch to Llandough Hospital move

Hearth Gallery

Hearth Gallery in Llandough Hospital

AN art exhibition by Llandough patients has opened in a gallery funded due to the imminent closure of Whitchurch Hospital.

‘Drawing Our Stories: Art, Medicine, and Well-being’ is a collection of artworks in the Hearth Gallery near the entrance to the newly constructed Plaza.

The gallery first opened in October 2015, as the developer had to provide public art onsite under a Section 106 agreement. This art element needed to be the value of at least 1% of the development’s build costs, which was calculated as £9,678 in December 2014. 

Whitchurch Hospital’s closure was revealed in 2010, when it was announced that adult mental health inpatient services would be transferred to Llandough, part of the Whitchurch site would be sold off for housing and a health centre would remain there.

Not all departments currently operating in the main Whitchurch Hospital building are set to transfer to  Llandough.

Last month the University Health Board (UHB) said that it had approved alternative facilities and refurbishments to enable remaining departments to move. It was anticipated that all affected departments would be notified shortly, setting in motion the necessary staff consultation process.

Miners' Mural

Miners’ Mural

Llandough’s emphasis on art was also seen in last month’s relocation of Michael Edmonds’ mural of miners from the back of the hospital to a prominent position next to the Plaza. What’s more, a 2015 relaunch of ‘Painting in Hospitals’ in Llandough led to an almost mile-long sequence of over 80 artworks along Europe’s longest hospital corridor.

Opposite the Plaza, a replacement Adult Mental Health Unit for Whitchurch Hospital is due to receive transferred patients in April. This construction, Hafan y Coed (‘Haven of Trees’), will also give art a key role. The move from Whitchurch to Llandough is set to be portrayed in a series of sketches by local artist Helen Turnbull.

The Clinical Project Lead, Simone Joslyn, said: “The unit is intended to be a rehabilitation and recovery centre of excellence and will show how art can improve an environment for long-stay patients. It is innovative, as this is the first NHS hospital to do so.”

“All the wards in Hafan y Coed are named after trees, and the art will be to do with nature. We want to bring the outside in – just as trees shed their leaves and come back with still strong roots, we want that safe feeling.”

Gallery space

Gallery space

The Art Gallery Coordinator, Melanie Wotton, added: “We considered other natural themes such as rivers, but we eventually opted for the more stable theme of trees.”

‘Drawing Our Stories: Art, Medicine, and Well-being’ is open daily between 8am and 8pm until March 11.

A party for past and present Whitchurch Hospital staff is being held on March 11 to mark the closure. The party is expected to be part of a week-long series of events at the hospital before its anticipated closure in April, according to a post on the Whitchurch Hospital Historical Society website.

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