Art of the Hospital

04 Nov 2021

Hospitals can be an overwhelming place for children and young adults, especially during a pandemic when normal services are unavailable, and friends and families aren’t always able to be by your side.

But COVID-19 restrictions haven’t stopped us, as we embraced virtual technology so we can continue to brighten the faces of all sick kids in hospital. From bringing colour and creativity to the hallways, to delivering custom virtual workshops to help improve the hospital experience for children and young adults.

Helping kids in hospital

Since 1998, our Art Program has placed the patient experience at the heart of what they do, and we’ve worked to create meaningful opportunities of artistic expression for patients, siblings, families, and staff across the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network (SCHN).

“The art activities are a great way for kids to have fun and be creative plus research shows art engagement can also have significant benefits in clinical and health environments. Studies have shown art programs can improve quality of life, reduce anxiety and stress, improve clinical outcomes, reduce medication consumption, and decrease the length of hospital stays,” says SCHF Art Program Manager, Timothy Talty.

(Graphic) Creative experiences so far in 2021: Participant interactions - 397, Workshops - 118, Exhibitions installed - 16

Spotlight on TODAY / TOMORROW

The Art Program collaborates with professional artists to develop specialist programs tailored for children and young people in hospital.

The most recent workshop has been TODAY / TOMORROW, which invites patients and siblings to see themselves in hospital ‘TODAY’ via a black and white self-portrait photograph and then guided to design and create their own self-portrait for ‘TOMORROW’ to convey their hopes and aspirations. These self-portraits are currently on display in the hospital including one from Ariana, who participated in TODAY / TOMORROW while in the hospital undergoing treatment for severe aplastic anaemia.

Ariana’s mum Bec says: “Ariana was so drawn to the piece and even wanted to visit it one last time to say goodbye! It’s just incredible the impact the art exhibitions have on kids.”

Art fosters creativity and control

“The workshops focus on teaching new creative skills and allowing the children to have the freedom to decide how they would like to use these skills to give them a sense of control,” explains Timothy.                  

“Children are also given a greater sense of control and ownership over the hospital environment by ensuring at last one display is dedicated to patient artworks in every hallway exhibition. And they get really excited about seeing their artworks on public display.”

A patient taking part in an art experience in hospital

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