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  • James Stewart

Reception for Reflections at King Edward VII Hospital

Curating Art and Well Being

On 8 June 2023 the King Edward VII Hospital held a reception for their Friends to present Reflections, the exhibition of 14 paintings by ten artists, placed over the 6 floors of the new medical centre from January 2023 to January 2024.

The Friends of King Edward VII Hospital are supporters who donate money for capital projects, such as the recently completed medical centre itself.

Over canapés and drinks there were three speakers:

Chief Executive Professor Vale opened the proceedings with some background to the new medical centre and the facilities it contains. This was the first Friends event since before Covid, and also the first chance for this group to see the new medical centre.

Then Alex Le Vey, Director of Philanthropy said a few words on the current fundraising campaign. In 2016 the 120th Anniversary Appeal raised funds which enabled the medical centre to be built, and now the current 'Next Chapter Appeal' : Over the next five years they plan to build upon recent upgrades to the hospital estate by undertaking extensive renovations to the main hospital building, transforming both the campus and the services and care they provide.

The result will be a thoroughly rejuvenated and reinvigorated hospital campus, delivering the highest quality personalised healthcare with the latest innovations in medical science.

Ale Le Vey then continued to talk about the long history of art being placed in the hospitals from war artists donating works in the early years, to Cecil Beaton, who had close links to the Royal Family as does King Edward VII Hospital.

Alex Le Vey then introduced James Stewart of Zimmer Stewart Gallery to talk about Reflections and the contemporary works exhibited during 2023.

Full Text of James Stewart's talk:

James Stewart started by thanking you Professor Vale and Alex Le Vey, then continued:

It has been our great pleasure at Zimmer Stewart Gallery to have worked with the King Edward VII Hospital since January last year when we first placed a series of contemporary paintings by six emerging artists in this wonderful new state of the art medical centre.

Art in any environment serves a number of purposes; this is true for the home, work and other public spaces.

Although any artwork should stand up own merits, it cannot be seen in isolation. The setting affects the way we perceive the work and vice versa.

Primarily artwork needs to look good, but it also says something about the place where it can be seen and about the person, or in this case organisation, placing it.

  • Does it fit with the organisations aims and objectives, support their brand?

  • What does it convey? In this case that they support emerging artists and want to show new work to their visitors, that they might not otherwise see.

In a medical environment the art chosen has a further purpose for visitors, to create a welcome distraction or provoke discussion. Studies have shown that art can ease anxiety, stress and depression for both staff and patients, even shorten the length of stay or reduce the need for medication

During 2022 it became clear that the hospital wanted to be more ambitious for the works chosen to be shown for the next twelve month period.

Discussions with Rebecca Sumner, now Director of Operations, ensued and we began a ‘Call for Artists’ with the aim of widening the search for the next stage, the hospital wanted a broad range of artists in terms of medium, genre, and style, but most importantly they wanted to encourage a diverse range of artists to submit works.

The Call for Artists was launched in July 2022 and by the closing date we had a phenomenal response from 180 artists submitting 680 works. These were shortlisted to 30 artists and 114 works for the hospital Art Panel to review in November of that year.

The art panel was made up of consultants, nurses, reception staff, the hospital client group and the HR and marketing departments. After a good discussion the Art Panel agreed the final selection and I was happy to be able to report the good news to the ten artists some of whom are here tonight:

Aidan Myers – Banana Plant in this reception area – he is based in Cardiff, where he has a solo exhibition ‘Curated Nature’ on now and later this year he will be returning to Aamir Art house in Maharashtra, India for a three month artist residency as he did in 2018.

Barbara Nati – two photo collages, from her Briny Chronicles series are on the 1stfloor, Barbara’s work is currently displayed in the window of The Hari Hotel in Belgravia, produced during her residency there after being a runner-up artist to their 2022 Prize.

Kama Zakirova – Lavender Green triptych on the 4th floor, Kama is based in Bristol and in her work she explores the human need for connection, memories and the correlation between conscious and sub-conscious.

Nicola Weavers – her work Prospect is in the Basement adjacent to the imaging suite, Nicola has just been commissioned to produce 28 paintings for the Geneva offices of the European Club Association, an independent body for football clubs at European level.

Rachel Mercer – two paintings, Play and Climbing on the 2nd floor, Rachel has won many awards and has a piece in the Royal Collection.

Gareth Brown – two paintings from his Harbour Reflections series on the lower ground floor, Gareth trained in conservation before becoming a full-time painter and is based in East Anglia.

We should not be surprised that the selection process resulted in the high quality and range of artworks chosen by the Art Panel, here are the ones who could not be here tonight:

Trevor Burgess, whose work Steps is on the 4th floor has a painting selected for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, starting this week. He also has two exhibitions that have just ended, one at Lakeside Arts in Nottingham and the other at Galerie Wos in Zurich.

Gala Bell, whose two works Lilith and Dendera are on 3rd floor, has been selected by the Saatchi Gallery as one of 37 Rising Stars to collect in 2022, this year she has been selected as creative contributor for the Vila Lena Art Foundation in Tuscany

Rebecca Hardaker – her work Horses Head III is on the second floor, also has work in two exhibitions this month, one called All That Matters to Me Now at the Greatorex Street Gallery, London and for one night only a piece at Somerset House as part of Interrupted Art, Unmute Art, a concept where visitors can hear the artist discuss their work and creative process over headphones.

Bo Lanyon - his piece Waveguide, is in the basement, his grandfather, Peter Lanyon, was one of the St Ives original mid-century abstract artists, in 2022 Bo Lanyon was commissioned by the Moxy Hotel in Bristol for a large painting and he has two further commissions in 2023 for DXC Technology Offices in Cheltenham and for Legal and General offices in Bristol.

On behalf of the artists and Zimmer Stewart Gallery I hope you enjoy the ‘Reflections’ exhibition of 14 works over the six floors and do let me or the artists know if you have any questions – there are brochures and a selection of postcards dotted around

Thank you.


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