The exhibition was created in partnership with Bank Mills Studios

Air Arts Summer Exhibition Launch, Royal Derby Hospital

It’s not very often you get the chance to see the launch of an art exhibition in an NHS Hospital, but that’s exactly what Lunar21 attended on the 10th June 2015.

Air Arts curate and develop the ongoing arts and performance programme that takes place within the context of community and environment of the hospital. It’s work includes music and theatre, visual art exhibitions and installations (both as permanent pieces and changing displays).

Air Arts work with artists and designers from within Derbyshire, producing a range of responses suitable for the many audiences that engage with the hospital on a daily basis and over longer periods. Collaborations with local creative partners such as the Bank Mills Studios and Maison Foo ensure the arts and performance remain crucially relevant to the community of Derby. Bank Mills tweeted about the exhibition launch and Lunar21 decided to attend to find out more about one of the more unusual public arts spaces in Derby.

The event was the launch of the hospital’s Spring Summer exhibition, curated by Fi Burke, lead artist on the Engage Programme, comprising of work from the designers, artists and makers of the Bank Mills Studios in Derby.

The exhibition stretches over three floors of the hospital, and features a diversity of visual art; from print making, wire work, photography, collage through to more traditional pen and ink and painting. The aim of the programme: to brighten the environment for visitors and staff, as well as break up and invigorate very uniform corridor spaces.

Displaying art in a hospital setting is fraught with inherent problems, from little natural light to busy thoroughfares. The Air Arts team have championed a visual arts programme which does indeed improve the corridor spaces. Perhaps the disappointment of the experience is that it is very seldom viewed as a whole, more often glimpsed in snatches; very few cover the whole of the hospital as comprehensively as the exhibition does.

On the launch day, the ‘guided-tour’ led by the Banishers of Boredom (performance artists Maison Foo in very fetching disguise) was hilarious and a quirky counter point to the obvious knowledge and passion of Fi Burke for her subject. She was able to recount personally the motives and inspiration of the artists being displayed. We were led through the maze of hospital corridors, mindful of dodging the ever-present patients on trolleys who often viewed us lined up against the walls with some amazement. The memorable sight of Kathryn and Bethany skipping along in red overalls, followed by an entourage of about thirty tour-participants created quite a stir in places. It was certainly a positive invasion of the hospital that hopefully made some smiles along the way.

Lunar 21 would highly recommend keeping your eyes peeled for the exhibition around the Derby Royal Hospital if you chance to be visiting any time. The quality and range of the work displayed is excellent and we would recommend a visit to see the collection in it’s own right. A challenging environment, such as a hospital, is exactly where public art is needed. In reinterpreting how public spaces  such as hospitals are perceived and used, in this case to display art, we will create opportunities to reintegrate them back into our communities in way that would not otherwise be possible.

Laura Waters, Arts Programme Manager for Air Arts: “The standard of the work for this exhibition is extremely high and we have a huge variety of work to show this summer.  For this exhibition we have also created a map which can be used by patients and visits as an aid to wayfinding around the site and will also enable staff, patients and visits to tour the exhibition themselves in their own time”