Student art creates healing environment
A group of aspiring artists from Coleg y Cymoedd have turned their collective talents to creating a refuge of calm for patients of Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr Hospital.
The 28 Level 2 art learners from the college’s Nantgarw campus have worked to create a series of colourful pieces to transform the outside courtyard used by patients of the hospital’s Acute Adult Mental Health Ward.
Working with a theme of natural patterns, insects and colour, the installations created by the learners will transform the otherwise bland area into a welcoming and safe outside space for patients.
The project provided the first opportunity for the learners to work to a client’s brief and real-world deadlines. They were also able to benefit from the experience of one of Wales’ most successful location artists, Chris Gadd, who visited the college to reveal how his career has allowed him to work around the world to create largescale pieces. That work includes creating multiple pieces for UK theme parks.
The artists each took an individual approach using a variety of materials and techniques to create pieces that will withstand the elements once they are installed on the walls.
Working with Eleri Pritchard, a Senior Occupational Therapist at Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr, ensured that the subject material of each piece would not only be suitable, but beneficial for patients of the Hospital’s Acute Adult Mental Health ward.
Commenting on the learners work, Eleri Pritchard, said: “We’d been struggling for a while to find a partner to help us make the yard a more comfortable, colourful space for both patients and ward staff. Thankfully, Paul at the college was happy to come along to see how the learners could help turn the stark walls of the yard into the therapeutic space we need it to be. When I met with the class the learners really got the concept and the specific needs we had.
“A lot of stigma still exists around mental health and this was a great opportunity for us to discuss the realities and share wellness practises that I hope will help them in the future.
“We couldn’t be happier with the artwork and it will be exciting to see the positive effect it is sure to have on those who will get to enjoy it.”
As level 2 learners studying towards an OCR diploma, many in the class will soon be looking to progress to the next stage of their studies, with a majority hoping to progress to university.
Talking about the project, Coleg y Cymoedd Art Co-ordinator, Paul Lavagna, said: “This is the first live project the learners will have worked on and they quickly adapted to working with a real client. The work required them to not only produce weatherproof pieces that delivered on aesthetics, but to create designs that create an environment that aids patients’ wellbeing. They delivered on all counts.”
Emma Winters was one of the learners who took the challenge to create an artwork for the hospital. Describing the project Emma said: “This was an amazing experience for all of us and the first chance we’ve had to work with a client to create a custom piece. Personally, I loved the chance to experiment, work with bright colours and draw from life.
“It’s been an intense experience creating these pieces in just a few weeks, but we’ve had the chance to work with a location artist who has worked in Japan, America, Dubai, all over the world. I can’t wait to see our work at the hospital, it makes me excited to think about what I’ll get to do in the future.”