He is known to generations, so it seems obvious that artwork from much-loved illustrator and the UK’s first Children’s Laureate, Sir Quentin Blake, should adorn the walls of the recently opened wing at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
Working in conjunction with Artfelt - The Children’s Hospital Charity’s arts programme - Quentin’s work now fills the corridors of three new wards at the Sheffield hospital, and is the focus of large scale murals in the communal spaces, where children come together to relax, eat and play.
The collaboration celebrates highlights from his archives and also features brand new pieces inspired by the work of Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
These special paintings in the wards’ Parent Rooms, show hospital staff supporting patients on their adventures around a magical tree. Limited edition prints of these pieces can be purchased as part of ‘Collective’ - a new exhibition currently showing at The Long Gallery at the hospital,. The exhibition will raise funds for Artfelt’s important work in making the clinical feel more comfortable for little ones, as well as their family and friends.
For the commission, Artfelt manager, Cat Powell, worked with Quentin and the team at Burgess Studio to select groups of illustrations from his extensive collection of original drawings and watercolours. These were then re-produced as high quality prints, which it is hoped will allow and encourage dialogue between children and carers as they walk through the hospital spaces.
Cat said: “I was thrilled to work with Quentin on this project.
“Like many people he was the illustrator of my childhood and through his prolific style he remains relevant to children today.
“It’s been wonderful introducing his illustrations to a new generation and hearing the comments from adults and children alike in response to his work.”
Circus artists, mythical dragons, the trumpet playing Mr Magnolia and the wonderful work of Planet Zog all feature amongst the engaging artwork, which was deliberately chosen for its child-friendly nature.
Visiting mum Stefania Finch, aged 25, from Barnsley said: “I love the artwork, it’s so friendly and welcoming. It brightens up the ward so much and it doesn’t feel like a clinical space.
“My daughter Mia loves the colours and she’s only two, so it’s helping her learn as well.”
“I read a lot of Roald Dahl book’s to my children, so it’s lovely to see more of his artwork here. As a parent, I’m really thankful to Quentin Blake and everyone involved for making this possible.”
An avid supporter of art in hospitals, Quentin added: “Over the past dozen years I have worked on many projects in hospitals, and have been moved to discover the positive effects pictures can have.
“Hospitals can be strange and intimidating places, especially for a child, so it was fabulous to be asked to create some new pieces of art and to work with the Burgess team on this project.
“I hope the artwork will enhance the powerful relationship between staff and patients, and that they will find plenty to look at, think about and enjoy.”
Artfelt plays an important role in helping children and young people to feel more comfortable at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
Artfelt manages the hospital’s first dedicated art gallery along its main corridor. The Long Gallery showcases changing exhibitions and has hosted local artists including TADO, Pete McKee, Jonathan Wilkinson and James Green.
The project is funded by the charity as part of its commitment to making improvements to the environment at Sheffield Children’s Hospital – one of only four stand-alone children’s hospitals in the UK.
Manager Cat has ten years experience in her role with Artfelt, and was instrumental in setting up the UK’s Paediatric Hospitals Art Network, as well as the Sheffield Arts and Wellbeing Network, and was a founding member of the Sheffield Creative Guild.
She added: “Artfelt brightens our hospital walls, makes children smile and engages them in creative workshops to distract them during anxious moments, such as before surgery or to break up long stays on the wards.
“From mosaics and bunting to animation and cello-playing, our workshop programme uses visual arts, crafts and music to get children socialising, expressing and enjoying themselves – a valuable way to distract patients from their treatment so they can get better more quickly.”