Patients and staff on one of Plymouth’s mental health recovery units will have the chance to help rejuvenate the building after being chosen to be part of a renowned art programme.
Greenfields is a mental health recovery unit run by Livewell Southwest, a social enterprise providing adult physical, mental and social healthcare across Plymouth.
It cares for women with severe and long-standing mental health problems, with an average stay lasting between six and 18 months. Some of the women will have spent time at more secure units before coming to Greenfields, and the team’s focus is to ensure women feel safe and supported as they get the care they need to feel better.
The unit has been chosen by Hospital Rooms, an arts and mental health charity to be involved in its latest project. Hospital Rooms brings together world class artists to work with mental health patients and staff to transform mental health units with quality arts.
The charity has worked in a range of mental health settings already, including those that provide care to young people in severe mental health crisis, and care for older people with dementia.
It was founded by artist Tim A Shaw and curator Niamh White after they visited a close friend who had been sectioned and admitted to a mental health hospital, and were shocked at how cold and clinical the hospital was.
Artists involved work in partnership with patients and staff through a number of art workshops, events and discussions which started on Wednesday, 21 August.
Over the next six months, artists Abigail Reynolds, Andy Harper, Damian Griffiths, Emma Talbot, Nicola Bealing and Steven Claydon will transform communal spaces on the unit with the help of patients.
Diane Bratt, unit manager of Greenfields, said: “We’re delighted to have been picked for the next Hospital Rooms project and look forward to the upcoming workshops and installation of the art once it’s finished.
“We are committed to offering a safe and supportive environment to women who may find themselves with us and this project will be a fantastic opportunity for them to be involved in creating an environment that’s important to them.”
The project at Greenfields has been generously funded by clothing brand Seasalt Cornwall and Niamh and Tim have chosen artists that have strong links to the South West.
Describing the importance of the project, the co-founders said: “We were deeply impressed by Livewell Southwest and Greenfields’ commitment to improving the experience of its service users, and the vital support it provides to women with severe mental health problems in Plymouth and the wider Devon areas.
“By collaborating with artists who represent the wealth of talent in the South West, we have the opportunity to create an empowering and inspirational environment which will connect women with their wider community.”
As part of Hospital Rooms’ commitment to co-production and collaboration, service users, staff and artists will take part in a series of art workshops over the coming months to discuss and inspire the work that will be created.
Laura Blatherwick, Head of Arts Therapies and Specialist Counselling added: “Hospital Rooms are known for their participatory and inclusive projects which involve patients and staff in the creation and commissioning of artworks. It sounded like a great opportunity for the women and staff on the unit and I’m so pleased that we have been given this opportunity to work together.
“The next few months will be a really exciting time and we look forward to seeing what the patients and staff come up with alongside the artists, as well as enjoying the lasting difference this project will make in the future.”
Exhibitions celebrating the completion of Hospital Rooms at Greenfields will open to the public in Plymouth and St Ives in Summer 2020.