Falmouth artists take part in creative projects by mental health charity Hospital Rooms

02 July 2024

An open sketchbook with flower drawings
Ken Nwadiogbu 2

Still from Ken Nwadiogbu's workshop

Type: Text
Category: Falmouth News, Our graduates

Artists from our Falmouth School of Art (FSA) are involved in the work of Hospital Rooms – a charity initiative which harnesses the power of art to improve mental health patient wellbeing in hospitals.  

Founded by artist Tim Shaw and curator Niamh White in 2016, Hospital Rooms collaborates with artists, service users and NHS mental healthcare units to craft innovative artwork and creative programmes, while dispelling stigmas and advocating for culture and creativity in mental health care.  

Hospital Rooms in Cornwall 

Led by a core programme team, the charity runs projects across the UK. Fine Art BA graduate Izzy Eastick joined the team in 2023, in the role of Project Assistant, which sees her help with the general planning, organisation, and running of the project in Cornwall. 

On her experience working for Hospital Rooms, Izzy told us: “One of the most valuable things has been spending time on the units and getting to know the staff and service users and getting to know the environment; how it works and how people access creativity in those spaces. One of the things we noticed was that the service users didn't have access to high quality equipment; there's a men's forensic unit that we're working in, for example, where all they had access to was coloring books. So that's been really interesting, seeing how we can introduce more meaningful engagement with creativity for them.” 

She added: “Working with Hospital Rooms has had such an impact on who I am as an artist and person. As a job it has been so rewarding, being able to make such a tangible impact, and so I'd love to continue working for organisations that care as much as Hospital Rooms does about their impact. Ultimately it has shown me that I really want to make a difference to people.” 

Falmouth academic staff Ben Sanderson, Maria Christoforidou and Lucy Willow are three of the artists working on Hospital Rooms projects with Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to create artworks for the inpatient mental health wards in Redruth and Bodmin, aiming to put culture and creativity at the heart of mental health care in Cornwall. 


Hospital Rooms Digital Art School 

One particular Hospital Rooms project – Digital Art School – has recently relaunched following a pilot during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, and has transformed into a major nationwide arts programme providing artist-led digital workshops and free art materials to NHS inpatient mental health sites in England.  

To celebrate the relaunch of Digital Art School, members of FSA gathered on the Falmouth Campus in May to take part in a live artist-led workshop by Ken Nwadiogbu. Fine Art MA (Online) Course Leader Josie Cockram was joined by Fine Art students and staff from across the department, having previously connected with co-founder Niamh White who is now a guest lecturer on the online master's programme. 

Josie told us: “We were delighted to celebrate the launch of Digital Art School and had a great time zooming in from the Falmouth campus, hosted by Izzy. We gathered in Emily Noble’s brilliant BA Fine Art degree show exhibition for the broadcast – Emily came along together with BA Fine Art graduate Kaylee Winchcombe and Karina Busquets, who’ll graduate from MA Fine Art Online this summer. We joined artists, inpatients and hosts tuning in from Springfield Hospital in Essex, Camborne Redruth Community Hospital and the Hospital Rooms Studio.” 

She added: “The expansion of Digital Art School, with the provision of a high-quality box of materials designed by artist José Parlá to every NHS mental health unit across the UK, is a fantastic initiative for our students to learn from – particularly those of us who practice art in community online!” 

Jonty Lees, Fine Art BA Course Leader, led a Digital Art School workshop during the pilot. He told us: “It’s wonderful news that Falmouth University are involved in Hospital Rooms. The groundbreaking work undertaken by the charity thoughtfully applies Fine Art thinking to real world challenges. Using the skills and knowledge of artists to co-create better environments in hospitals is an example of how art can contribute to making the world a better place to live in.” 


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