The Arts and Environment Project at the Royal

One of Northern Ireland’s most adventurous public art projects

The Arts and Environment Project at the Royal Group of Hospitals was established in 1989. It seeks to improve the quality of the physical healthcare environment and enrich the experience of hospital users through the arts.

The aim is to create a stimulating hospital environment where medical practice is concerned not just with prevention or cure of physical illness, but also with the promotion of psychological, emotional and spiritual well being.

A wide range of projects have been undertaken throughout the site, including commissioned artworks, integrated artwork programmes for new buildings, patient workshops, patient and staff projects, research projects, and collaborative projects with external organisations.

Hospitals are complex environments encompassing many needs, and embracing a wide community of people. The organisation and presentation of the hospital, including messages or signs conveyed by the environment, directly and indirectly influences user experience. Locating a particular department, for example, can be a major source of stress for hospital users, but can also be alleviated by spatial and visual art.

This can be seen in practice within the Royal Victoria Hospital where artworks act as landmarks, defining and personalising the environment. Through engagement with artists, patients, and staff, the influence of the arts is evident throughout the entire Royal Hospitals site, in both public and clinical spaces.

© Hilary Cromie