Issue date: 13 October 2000

Artists and students from the University of the West of England have spent summer months busily working on a commission for the new Bristol Royal Hospital for Children to produce a collection of vitreous enamel tiles.

The project has been lead by Elizabeth Turrell, AHRB (Arts and Humanities Research Board), Fellow in Creative and Performing Arts, in the Faculty of Art, Media and Design. The project is part of a larger initiative, the arts project, to integrate art works into the new building in an effort to create a uniquely beautiful environment, which will produce a holistic healing atmosphere.

Elizabeth Turrell said, “We asked children what they would like to see in the hospital and their ideas have been an important factor in choosing images for the panels. Requests for bright colours – to make people feel better have been taken on and many of the panels have been based on images drawn and painted by children from the schoolroom in the Hospital (part of the Hospital Education Service managed by Bristol City Council and local schools). Some of the children were able to carry out the whole enamelling process and make a panel.”

There has been a growing interest and awareness in the potential of enamel in public buildings. The permanent tactile surface created by enamelling presents a perfect medium for painted, printed, drawn and decorative approaches. Vitreous enamel is glass bonded


onto metal under heat but there is more to it than this says Elizabeth Turrell, “The firing transforms the enamel and gives the whole process a feeling of alchemy, producing a richly coloured and vibrant embellishment. Enamel on metal has a unique delicacy, luminosity and tactile quality of surface.”

Lesley Greene, Arts Co-ordinator for the New Bristol Royal Hospital for Sick Children, said, “Parents expect high quality medical care as a matter of course, but they also want an environment which symbolises that care. The Hospital will feel welcoming by responding to a need for something ‘different’ or ‘joyous’ for their children and this is something the arts can help to contribute towards.”

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