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Artists commissioned for new hospital

Artists have been commissioned to create artwork for the new Balfour Hospital, currently under construction in Kirkwall.

Two Orkney based artists, Samantha Clark and Jack Whitwell, will create works of art for Orkney’s new hospital and healthcare facility — due to open in June this year.

Three commissions were advertised with the first going to Samantha, who will create a new work for the central hub space within the building. Samantha’s work draws on the human relationship with the natural world, working across video, installation, drawing, photography, and most recently creative writing. In 2018 she was awarded a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award.

“I am excited to be asked to develop artwork for this beautiful new hospital building,” she said.

“I am working on designs for a mural which will run along the walls and internal glazing in the central lobby area. These will be based on drawings derived from the dynamic natural environment of Orkney, particularly the constant movement of the sea that surrounds us here.”

The second commission went to Jack Whitwell, a visual artist with an interest in analogue photography and traditional photographic processes. In 2018 he exhibited work nationwide, including at the Royal Scottish Academy Open. Jack will work over a period of several months responding to the moment of transition between the old and new Balfour hospitals, creating work for permanent display on site.

“My proposal responds to the transition of cultures, traditions and industries that have shaped Orkney,” he explained.

“My proposed sculptures will respond to these changes and how they shaped the people who call the island their home. I am looking forward to working closely with NHS staff and members of the public, creating work which reflects the positive impact that the new hospital will provide.”

The third commission was awarded to The Royal Scottish Academy (RSA), who will develop a scheme of work to manage the hospital’s current art collection and re-present it — where possible — within the new Balfour Hospital. Jane Lawrence, RSA art consultant, is leading the work.

She said: “The Royal Scottish Academy is delighted to be working with NHS Orkney in devising an art collection policy which will maximise the impact of existing artworks, build upon this legacy and enhance the collection by engaging with the local arts community.”

According to NHS Orkney the three commissions complement the arts strategy it has developed with the support of Scottish charity Arts in Healthcare and Orkney Islands Council’s Arts Development Service. The strategy looks to establish the role of arts and creativity with the new hospital and the benefits this can bring to patients, staff and the wider public.

Ann McCarlie, project director for the new hospital and healthcare facilities said: “The letting of these three commissions is an exciting first phase in the development of the Art Strategy for the Balfour.

“The commissions are supported by contributions from Robertson and the Orkney Health Board Endowment Fund and will enhance the experience of patients, staff and visitors in the new building.”

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