The Contemporary Art Society’s art strategy for the Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust highlights the potential for art to enhance the healing environment and emphasise the positive work of the Trust. The first major commission to develop as a result of the strategy is for the Kingfisher Court mental health unit in Radlett, Hertfordshire.
CAS Consultancy commissioned artists Nicky Hirst and James Ireland to create site specific works for two key areas of the facility, James’ work in the reception and entrance corridor and Nicky’s work in the “social streets” which form a primary space of circulation and interaction within the unit. Taking inspiration from the nature and landscape parkland landscape surrounding the P&HS Architects designed building, the artworks looked to the natural world for their initial inspiration.
Nicky’s works comprised a distributed series of bronze sculptures, installed throughout the inside and outside of the building reminding us of the things we pick up on walks, keep in our pockets or place on tables and mantelpieces. Continuing on this theme Nicky also produced a series of photographs of people’s shelves at home, these beautiful still lives show the things that are important to us, the things we keep. Finally, Nicky invited service users, staff and people from the local community to contribute a photograph and a description of an item they hold dear to them. This became a publication which will be given to each service user as they come into the building for the first time.
James’ sculptural works create a fragmented landscape as you walk through the public areas of the building. The jewelled columns mimic the architecture of the reception area, and the colours of the sky are carried through to the link corridor with his wall based installations and vertical sculptures, culminating in a pixelated sunset on a window at the end of the corridor.
To read a review on Kingfisher Court in FX magazine’s January 2015 issue by Veronica Simpson, visual arts/design writer and environmental psychologist click here (pdf).