James Aldridge, David Batchelor, Rowena Dring, Cornelia Parker, George Shaw, Shahzia Sikander, DJ Simpson

The award winning Barts and the London Breast Care Centre is considered a pioneering example of public art commissioning in a healthcare setting. A series of site specific commissions from leading artists are integrated with the architecture, to produce moments of contemplation; creating spaces that positively encourage distraction and discussion.

The art programme was curated for Vital Arts by Theresa Bergne of Field Art Projects, and took as its starting point the feedback that visitors would rather be ‘anywhere, but here.' To this end, the expression of landscape explored by all the art installed offers an element of ‘transportation,' offering viewers the opportunity to think about being ‘somewhere else,' if only in mind.


WEST WING, making art and architecture work for health
is available to buy in the Vital Arts shop

James Aldridge Twilight 2004
acrylic on canvas/hardboard, vinyl and perspex

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James Aldridge’s paintings explore notions of natural beauty inspired by images taken from nature books, bird watching guides and fabric prints. At Barts, Aldridge has created a series of painted screens that frame the windows of the second floor waiting room.  In creating this work, Aldridge has drawn together influences from ancient Roman frescoes and nineteenth century French wallpaper.  He has chosen to depict ‘twilight’ because as he explains, ‘it is a magical, almost unreal time. I wanted the play of light on the screens to allow the landscape to appear to change rather than being fixed at a certain point. I hope the layers within the work will provide viewers with a visual journey and space for contemplation.’

Aldridge was born in Kent in 1971 and educated at The Royal College of Art and Manchester University.

Rowena Dring  Think of paradise 2004
Fabric applique

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Dring uses a traditional form of needlework  (fabric appliqué) to create illusionary utopias and Gardens of Eden in a never-ending quest for Arcadia. She draws inspiration from photographs she has taken as a tourist, or images borrowed from travel guides, picture postcards and calendars. At Barts, Dring invited hospital staff, patients and visitors to send her an image of their favourite landscape. She received hundreds of images, many of which showed tropical paradises, lakes or waterfalls. Dring decided to work with a photograph of a tropical paradise where light filters through the trees and plays across the water’s surface. As part of this commission,  Dring also worked with staff, patients and members of the Breast Care Support Group in a series of open workshops, where people helped to cut out the hundreds of fabric shapes that have been stitched together to make the work. 

Dring was born in Wellingborough in 1970 and educated at Chelsea College of Art and Design and Goldsmiths College, London.

George Shaw 
 Home 2004
Humbrol paint and board

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George Shaw’s paintings often explore the landscape of his childhood home, a post war housing estate in Coventry. At Barts, Shaw has created a series of paintings that have a haunting nostalgic feel, intensely personal, but at the same time recalling a landscape common to many of us. Shaw explains, “When I began making these paintings for the West Wing I had in mind ….a place of familiarity and warmth, of stories and memories and life. The place in the paintings is my own childhood home where my parents still live and where I visit often. It is a place from where we have visited hospital many times over the years and where phone calls to and from such places have been made. It is a place where, as a family, we have all returned. It was my intention that these paintings brought with them a touch of the familiar and the loved to a visit which can often make us feel isolated and removed from our daily lives”.

Shaw was born in Coventry in 1966 and educated at Sheffield Polytechnic and The Royal College of Art, London.

Cornelia Parker
Still Life with Reflection 2004
Domestic silverware

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Cornelia Parker’s work has a sense of humour, but also a subtle spiritual quality that encourages the viewer to take a longer look. At  Barts, Parker observes that the waiting room is, by its very nature, a limbo place where time and reality can feel suspended. On being asked to create an artwork for such a room with the potential of a captive audience, Parker felt the blank ceiling was the appropriate place for it to be located. As she explains, “The contemporary ceiling is usually a neglected empty space with no decoration, but further back in history, the ceiling was a popular site for art. In the lofty rooms of stately homes, eyes are taken upwards to enjoy the paintings or carvings that might adorn them. The artists who created them would often employ a technique known as trompe I’oeil, to trick the eye. Through the clever use of perspective, this would give an illusion of three dimensionality to what were in fact painted flat illusions or carved low relief’.

Parker was born in 1956 in Cheshire and educated at Wolverhampton Polytechnic and Reading University.

David Batchelor
West Wing Spectrum 2004
Neon light, steel and acrylic
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David Batchelor’s large-scale works are usually made in response to a particular setting and seek to interrupt this setting through the use of found objects and intense artificial colour. At Barts, however, Batchelor has created an artwork that seeks to enhance rather than disrupt the beauty of the eighteenth century stairwell. His glowing neon lights frame the original windows and are designed to be visible from every level of the building, but not visible in their entirety from any one point. As he says, ‘ the work will change throughout the day as the light levels alter: in full daylight the work will glow quite softly; at night it will appear much brighter’.

Batchelor was born in Dundee in 1955 and educated at Trent Polytechnic and the Centre for Contemporary Studies, University of Birmingham.

Shahzia Sikander Land-escapes 2004
Digital prints

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Shahzia Sikander is a painter who works in the tradition of Indian miniature painting, using themes and images from Hindu and Islamic mythology to create delicate minimal landscapes. For the West Wing, Sikander has created a series of landscapes that are derived from details found in a few selected schools of Persian and Indian miniatures from both Hindu and Muslim cultures. Stylised and stripped of sentiment, the images are whimsical and buoyant and are intended to transport the viewer into imaginary worlds. The images use a reverse layering process -  instead of building layer upon layer of information, Sikander removes them. She says, ’my aim is to create a dialogue with traditional form and to understand its relevance to contemporary expression. The works are a commentary on lived experiences, art history and pop culture, demonstrating that art can be a tool for transgression and questioning as well as for contemplation’.

Sikander was born in Lahore, Pakistan in 1969 and educated at National College of Arts, Lahore and Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, USA.

DJ Simpson Check, Double Check 2004
Laminate and birch plywood

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DJ Simpson makes his work by 'drawing' directly onto wooden panels with a carpenter's router cutter, to create beautiful, spontaneous sculptural reliefs that invite the viewer to touch them. In the main waiting room, Simpson has created three large-scale panelled walls that seek to work with the historic features of the building. As DJ Simpson explains, 'the walls I'm using have a format that might make you think of a traditional landscape. It's a common human game to project an image on to something abstract but there are all kinds of spaces to imagine other than the picturesque'.

Simpson was born in Lancaster in 1966 and educated at Reading University and Goldsmiths College, London.



The West Wing is also featured in the following publications:


A prospectus for arts and health

The power of art visual arts: Evidence of impact, regeneration, health, education and learning

Designed with care: Design and neighbourhood healthcare buildings


West Wing Evaluation Report