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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS


Home > News > New art gallery officially opens at the Cumberland Infirmary

New art gallery officially opens at the Cumberland Infirmary

Posted on Tuesday 5th August 2014

Ann Farrar, chief executive and Gina Tiller, chair with members of staff who are displaying their photography in the art gallery

The Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle is celebrating having a new art gallery in its main reception area after it was officially opened by Ann Farrar, chief executive and Gina Tiller, chair of North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust on Thursday 31 July.

The gallery forms part of a major push to improve the hospital environment through quality art and design benefiting everyone, patients and staff alike, in and around the Trust’s facilities both in Carlisle and Whitehaven. 

Ann Farrar and Gina Tiller were on hand to show their wholehearted support for the gallery, symbolically cutting a ribbon to officially open the gallery which is currently showcasing 15 excellent examples of photographic work submitted in response to a staff competition. Also present were representatives from Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery and Carlisle College of Art.

Ann Farrar, Chief Executive said: “The influence of good art and design in hospital environments where people spend a significant amount of time, often in worrying circumstances, cannot be overstated.

“I’m delighted that we had such an overwhelming response from our staff in terms of the photographic work submitted and from patients in terms of their positive reaction to the art gallery. It definitely lifts the whole area around the main entrance which in itself affects hundreds of people every single day.”

Gina Tiller, Chair added: “I think the fact that both Ann and I are proud to be part of such a wonderful opening event tells you all you need to know about how important we think art and design is in improving the health and wellbeing of our patients and staff across the Trust.”

Consultant Surgeon Fraser Smith is chair of a recently formed steering group tasked with creating the very best environmental design and art work at the Cumberland Infirmary and West Cumberland Hospital. He said: “The opening of the art gallery in Carlisle is an important first step in our ambition to improve the hospital environment through art and design.

“In line with many of the top healthcare organisations in the world, we recognise the importance of aesthetic artwork in the recovery and healing period for patients and also in terms of the wellbeing and productiveness of our staff.”

Mr Smith, who has studied the impact of art in hospitals at the University of London, continued: “It is a scientifically proven fact that excellent art and design improves the overall experience of being in hospital and directly impacts on patient recovery rates and boosts staff morale and therefore productivity.”

Funding for the project has come entirely from charitable donations, patient support and staff volunteers. The gallery itself has been populated for the first exhibition as part of a trust-wide staff competition with the very best photographic examples contributed from all parts of the team, from clinicians such as consultant surgeons and midwives to clerical typists and pharmacists.

North Cumbria has been working closely with buddy trust and acquisition partner Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust which has a strong reputation nationally for its investment in art. For the past ten years, Northumbria has developed award-winning healing arts programmes using art and design as a therapeutic medium to improve the hospital environment for patients and staff.

Brenda Longstaff, charity and volunteer senior lead officer for Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, has been heavily involved in organising the event and promoting the aims and objectives of the design group with colleagues at North Cumbria.

She said: “We had such a wonderful response to the competition to find the very best photographic talent among hospital staff at the Cumberland Infirmary and West Cumberland Hospital and had to choose from many entries to agree the final 15 pictures in the gallery.

“To emphasise the power of art, one of the most fervent art fans was actually a seriously ill patient who wished to have her favourite picture from the exhibition placed by her bedside, a wish that was granted by the Penrith midwife who took it. This just goes to show how much art can have a profoundly positive impact on both our staff and patients’ lives.”

The next exhibition at The Cumberland Infirmary, which was previewed at the official opening, features contributions from children under 11 who are patients of the Trust.

All staff, patients and visitors to the Cumberland Infirmary are welcome to view the art gallery which is in the main atrium entrance.