Collaborative practices: artists and architects

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Inspiring, stimulating and entertaining: three collaborative partnerships presented their projects integrating art works with architectural design. The audience were delighted.

Architects for Health’s summer event showcased projects with artists, architects, consultancies and clients featuring Wunderkammer at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity by Sue Ridge and Nicky Crane ; new work by Jane Willis and Studio Weave in Bristol; and the Macmillan Cancer Centre at University College Hospitals NHS Trust (UCLH) by Guy Noble, Arts Coordinator and Sophy Twohig from Hopkins Architects.

Guy and Sophy described the design and arts programme of the new Cancer Centre. A maxim of ‘Things that make you think about other things’ led their approach. The building, modelled on New York’s Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Centre, provides ambulatory care for cancer patients. The design is organised around a simple legible plan with an open middle section contained by ‘bookends’ that look outwards and connect to the neighbourhood. One of the most innovative spaces is for chemotherapy which, located in the central space, is surprisingly open and transparent. The arts programme resulted from an extensive commissioning process facilitating a sense of ownership for staff and patients. It brings moments of colour to an otherwise deliberately neutral palette helping to animate the building. Significant artists such as Greyson Perry and Morag Myerscough donated their ideas and drawings from which works were made; an important mixture of framed work in the corridors and integrated floor pieces liven the public areas. The centrepiece over the reception in the main entrance is Stuart Haggarth’s mobile made from found objects on the south coast. It is both inspiring and intriguing.

Jane and Je each described work from their practices in Arts Consultancy an architectural practice respectively. They came together over a design competition for an atrium space in the Royal Infirmary in Bristol. The project embraced the technical brief for a complex space and developed an inverted cone that would allow light through whilst containing noise and giving a focal point. Jane and Je debated what it is that artists and designer can bring to large scale new projects: two things emerged. Firstly, the opportunity to be obsessive about colour, feel, texture and push boundaries about ambience and acoustics without being constrained by programme; and secondly, bringing to the project a poetic sensibility- something that can get lost in the bigger picture in which many competing demands and pressures drive the management of a complex process towards closure.

Wunderkrammer is a cabinet of curiosities devised by Sue Ridge, lead artist, for an arts programme for Guys and St Thomas’s Charity offices whose art direction is led by Nikki Crane. Far from predictable, the works in the new space including commissioned prints, wallpaper and objects, challenge the status quo. Here, artists are being celebrated as catalysts for innovation and part of a wider leadership endeavour to position the trust as an innovative and enterprising organisation. The works include historical references to Florence Nightingale and her lamp, for example, as well as exploring new media.

The event was part of the London Arts in Health Forum’s Creativity and Wellbeing Week that promoted over 70 events across London. There is little doubt that art and architecture can together bring positive pleasure, therapy and delight to patients and staff. It is clear that the practice is maturing and remains inventive and challenging- as it should!

The event was hosted by ARUP with additional sponsorship from Hewi, Teal, Trovex and Kier. Presentations are available on

Speaker Biographies

Sophy Twohig BSc Dip Arch RIBA FRSA , Partner Hopkins Architects
Sophy graduated from the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London and joined Hopkins Architects in 1998. She was made a Partner in 2010.

Sophy was Project Architect for the Refectory and Library at Norwich Cathedral, phase one of the Norwich Cathedral Visitor’s Centre, which won the Gold Award at the 2004 Wood Awards, and in 2005 The Royal Fine Art Commission Trust Building of the Year Award. Sophy led the team for the National Tennis Centre project in Roehampton for the Lawn Tennis Association, the UK’s ‘Centre for Excellence’ for the sport, incorporating the LTA’s administrative headquarters, which won the BCO ‘Best of the Best Award’ in 2008 and an RIBA National Award in 2007. More recently, Sophy has worked in the healthcare sector including the UCLH Macmillan Cancer Centre for University College Hospital which won the Prime Minster’s Better Public Building Award 2012 at the British Construction Industry Award, and with the Circle Partnership in the development of new Circle Hospitals.

Sophy is currently working on a variety of London based projects including the redevelopment of South Hampstead High School, a new Tennis Club in Barnet and a number of high profile residential projects. She was made a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 2006.

Jane Willis, MA (Oxon), Director, Willis Newson
Jane Willis is the founder and director of Willis Newson, the UK’s leading independent arts and health consultancy which delivers creative and arts-based approaches to improving individual and community health and creating environments that support wellbeing.

Jane has been a pioneer of the arts and health field since 1994, when she set up and ran Vital Arts, the arts programme for Bart’s Health NHS Trust. She was a founding member of the London Arts in Health Forum, of the National Alliance for Arts and Health, and was Chair of Arts and Health South West from 2009 – 2011.

Jane has nineteen years experience delivering award-winning, large scale, integrated arts programmes in healthcare. She has an excellent knowledge and understanding of healthcare, the needs of patients, and of the arts. She is able to marry these areas of expertise to produce inspiring creative programmes that improve health and wellbeing, enhance healthcare environments and support the patient experience.

She has lectured and presented widely in the UK, USA and Taiwan, and will be Chair of Culture Health and Wellbeing, a major international arts and health conference to be held in June 2013. She has taught on arts and health MA courses across the UK, and has worked with the University of West of England to develop a series of post-graduate arts and health programmes.

As well as having a particular interest in healthcare environments and the role that arts and creativity can play in supporting positive mental health, Jane is committed to furthering knowledge, understanding and evidence of the benefits of creativity, culture and wellbeing. Working in partnership with the University of the West of England (UWE) Faculty of Health and Social Care, Willis Newson actively promotes research into the developing field of arts and health and offers a specialist arts and health evaluation service designed to assess the impact of projects.

Je Ahn, Studio Weave
Studio Weave is a young, energetic architecture practice working on a diverse set of projects across the country. Our work ranges from furniture and exhibition design, to shelters and buildings, to urban planning and landscapes. Since setting up in 2006 we have delivered a number of award-winning projects including ‘The Longest Bench’, a £475k seafront regeneration scheme in Littlehampton, West Sussex; ‘Freya and Robin’, two allegorical pavilions peering over the water as part of the Kielder Art and Architecture Programme, Northumberland; the ‘Floating Cinema’, a project for the Olympic Delivery Authority to transform a canal boat into a travelling host for film screenings; competition-winning acoustic sculptures for the National Trust at Kedleston Hall, Derby; and the recently completed Ecology of Colour, a community arts and crafts studio and dye garden on an ecology island in Dartford. Ongoing work includes public realm regeneration projects in Romford, LB Havering and Mitcham, LB Merton.

Our projects have been recognised by a number of awards including the Architectural Review’s International Emerging Architecture Awards, Sussex Heritage Trust Awards, Wood Awards, Copper in Architecture Awards, Condé Nast Traveller’s Innovation & Design Award; and most recently, the 2012 Civic Trust Awards where The Longest Bench won the Special Award for Community Impact and Engagement. Our work has been extensively published in trade, local and national press and television in the UK and abroad. Studio Weave is one of the 18 practices profiled in New Arcadians, a catalogue of ‘the most dynamic and innovative up-and-coming architectural practices working in the UK today’, by Lucy Bullivant; in 2011 the practice was profiled in The Observer as one of ‘Britain’s brightest young architects’; and this year we were Highly Commended in the World Architecture News’ 21 for 21 Awards, a search to find ‘the most inspiring architects of the century’ internationally.

Sue Ridge, Artist
Sue Ridge has considerable experience in making an art practice for public spaces, most recently health environments, and in working as lead artist on sensitive projects within multi disciplinary teams. At Guy’s Cancer Centre she will be working closely with Modus Operandi and the design team to ensure a cohesive strategy is developed. She brings to the role of Lead Artist an approach that is non prescriptive, and which responds to the context of Place.

Sue Ridge has 25 years experience working with architects and developers including Nightingale Associates, BDP , Stanhope Kajima, Levitt Bernstein Associates, Powell Moya, BAA, Michael Manser Associates, DEGW, and Railtrack . Her recent work has focused on therapeutic environments , and she is currently on the Executive Committee, London Arts and Health Forum. Sue’s recent work in therapeutic environments has been as lead artist on some large scale projects at bid stage including the PFI bids for Papworth Hospital and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. Recent smaller commissions are for the new Operating Theatre and A&E departments at Northwick Park Hospital.

At Guy’s & St Thomas’s, Sue is lead artist for Guy’s & St Thomas’ Charity’s new office. This ongoing commission has involved working closely with the Charity, and researching its rich history. With the Charity, she has involved local artists of all ages and has set up three commissions with UAL students and graduates from local art schools (Chelsea, Camberwell and LCC). As part of this work she has established a relationship with the hospital museums; the Old Operating Theatre, the Gordon Museum and the Florence Nightingale Museum; this has now fed into her work with Guy’s & St Thomas’ Radiology Department, where she will be x-raying selected objects from the museums to be incorporated into artworks in the Department

Nikki Crane FRSA
Nikki Crane is Head of Arts Strategy at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity where she leads the arts programme at the heart of the Charity’s mission to improve health and healthcare in Lambeth and Southwark. From 2001 – 2007, she was Head of Social Inclusion at Arts Council England where she produced its first national strategies for Arts and Health and Arts and Criminal Justice. Between 2007 and 2012, Nikki was an independent arts consultant working with government departments and a range of leading arts, health and social justice organisations helping to give the arts a greater profile and platform and creating networks of organisations with shared interests. During this time she helped write the arts and health strategy for a major new UK hospital, worked with the National Gallery, The British Council and the Youth Justice Board and was on the senior management team of Dance United, the country’s foremost dance charity working with young people at risk.

Susan Francis
26 June 2013


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