In a place that combines enduring inequalities and solutions that have shaped the world, we’ve been a constant at the leading edge of health.
From Barbara Hepworth to Eduardo Paolozzi, we have amassed a vibrant collection for use in public and private spaces.
In the 20th century, a flurry of collecting took place at the hospital sites, and many of the works acquired were prints from contemporary and emerging artists. Print making in the 20th century was creative and experimental as photography was increasingly used instead of prints for reproduction.
The prints collected were progressive, embodying the new principles of abstraction that were being developed and taught in art schools. In Abstraction the art does not necessarily depict recognisable scenes or objects but is made up of forms and colours that exists for their own expressive sake.
Limited records of collecting principles means we do not know why individual works or series were collected, but it is likely a combination of several factors. Part of St Thomas’ was damaged during the Second World War and an ambitious modern rebuild, completed in 1975, expanded and improved the North Wing of the hospital. It is likely many works were acquired to fit with this new aesthetic.
The busy environment of the hospital with bright lights calls for more robust works rather than light sensitive watercolours or the fragile frames of older paintings. Contemporary prints, robustly framed and in bright colours are likely to have been viewed as a fitting solution. As prints are often created and collected in series’, displays of these can identify and bring cohesion to a space and fit around the needs of the area.
The works listed below are a selection of the several hundred in the collection.
Etching and aquatint
This lively picture captures the architectural details of the Hall. The combination of etching for the fine clear lines of the building and confidently applied aquatint renders the place immediately recognisable and full of life.
Gentleman catches both the minute details of the environment around St Thomas’ and the busy construction work. This wide panoramic of the hospital shows the historic and modern buildings, the view from the Palace of Westminster across the river.
1970, screen prints
Hepworth was at the forefront of the British abstraction movement, though better known as a sculptor she also made prints. Rangatira I and II are from her Opposing Forms series, this she described as sculpture in the two dimensions.
The collection of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation is continuously growing, and our contemporary works are acquired from galleries, studios, and artists and the collection also grows through commissions.
This open approach to new art works allows us to agilely fulfil the ambition to use the collection to improve the environment across the hospital sites. Commissioning also increases the relevance of the works, they are created with the patients and staff of Guy’s and St Thomas’ or inspired by their work.
Research shows that, for both physical and mental health, there are numerous positive outcomes from having the arts in a healthcare setting, which includes both art on display and creating works.
The works in the collection, whether acquired or commissioned, benefit the environment in a range of ways; this includes emotional needs, reflecting the experience or work of the patients and staff, and in responding to functional needs of the built environment.
The works listed below were all commissioned for the Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals. They all aim to be patient and staff centric, of benefit to those experiencing the environment.
2009, lambada photographic print
Glover undertook a one-year residency at the Assisted Conception Unit, Guy’s Hospital and in collaboration with staff and users produced a body of artwork that symbolised their work, including conception and patient journey. Blossom Explosion is one of several works from this residency in the Foundation’s collection.
2000, steel and granite
Commissioned for the millennium to symbolise the relationships of trust and help that exist between patient and healer, and the joining together of Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals.