Tewkesbury Hospital – outdoor courtyard glass artwork.
Architectural glass panels in the outdoor courtyard of the hospital.
Back in November last year I took a visit to the building site of the new hospital in Tewkesbury to see the design of the outdoor courtyard area and how it sat within the overall space of the building. Instructed to put on protective gloves, jacket and safety hat, I was led into the very grey, muddy and quite depressing looking building site with its massive cranes and scaffolding and what seemed like a monstrosity of concrete. The only colour around was the little hamlet of red workmen’s cabins all piled up on top of each other.
I have to admit that one of my little life obsessions is to discover ruined buildings. I can spend hours walking around ruins (with no protective clothing or hard hats), and indulging in my little dream world where I will let my imagination run riot as to how I would renovate these ruins and redesign them right down to what colours I would paint the walls! However, that day I had to really force my minds – eye to see beyond the greyness, the mud, staring workmen and noise, to feel the hugeness of the space and to begin imagining what sort of scale of glass art work would sit comfortably on the walls.
As I walked through the opening which would eventually become the main entrance of the hospital and into the opening of what was to be the main waiting room space, I was struck by the realisation that a visitor would see directly through this area and into the courtyard beyond and specifically at the back wall of the courtyard. That’s where the glass art was to go I thought. I knew then that I wanted to create a stimulating visual on those back walls in order to welcome every person entering the building. Often, entering into a hospital can be quite a daunting experience and I felt that this was an opportunity to try and lessen that anxiety through the means of a visual distraction.
Having already come up with the concept of the confluence of the two rivers of Tewkesbury as the main theme for the artwork, actually visiting the space and getting a sense of its scale was a crucial stage in the design process. Being an outside space, I wanted the art works to reflect this. I visualised a quiet and reflective space away from the buzz of the main waiting room, a place of calm and contemplation, as if in nature itself. I concentrated the designs on the flora found along the river banks of the Severn and Avon and deliberately enlarged the designs so that the onlooker would feel like they were sat in and amongst these reeds and plants. To also help with this, I installed the glass artwork along two walls and meeting in the corner opposite the main entrance.
Visiting that grey world all those months ago, forcing my minds-eye to see beyond and to a world of white walls and glass panels of translucent blues and greens led me on an exciting journey of learning and creativity and my hope now is that the artworks will become a kind of alternative medicine for the patients of the hospital.