How does Creativity heal?

Posted by Katherine Mellor on 01st November 2013

"Variety of form and brilliancy of colour in the objects presented to patients have a powerful effect and are actual means of recovery." - Florence Nightingale, 1859
During my time as Arts Director at Chelsea and Westminster Health Charity, it became increasingly clear to me about the benefits of a fruitful and aesthetically pleasing environment for those residing in hospital. 
The importance of the arts in the healing process has long been recognised. Research over the past twenty five years has shown that the presence of live music and visual arts can greatly reduce levels of anxiety and depression in hospital patients, and make significant improvements to health and wellbeing.
In my opinion, Art transforms the hospital space, and therefore the patient experience. When I was at Chelsea and Westminster, our art team worked closely with clinical staff to ensure the work on display met the specific needs of our patients in each part of their treatment. We found that different art mediums suited different parts of the hospital. Say, a set of prints showing calming landscapes could make a waiting room less intimidating, they could provide a positive distraction for anxious patients.
On the other end of the spectrum, ceiling-mounted lightboxes could lower the blood pressure of patients undergoing lengthy or intrusive procedures, whereas cartoons and graphic images provided a focus for young patients being put under anaesthesia. Finally, we found a brightly coloured artwork placed by a door could help orientate an elderly patient suffering from dementia.
Rainbow Jet - Emma Harman
Rainbow Jet - Emma Harman
Pink Cava Lilly - Bruce Mclean
Pink Cava Lilly - Bruce Mclean
Of course, creating a healing and inspiring physical environment for patients, staff and visitors is just the start of what we can do to bring the benefits of the arts into a healthcare organisation.  
Something that became hugely clear to me, was that active participation in creative activities is eminently beneficial to patients, particularly the young and the elderly. Projects such as Art for Care can provide a safe space for self-expression, as well as developing a valuable sense of togetherness and community.
Rise Art Charity Art Pack
Children's Art Pack as part of the Art For Care Scheme
Katherine Mellor curated the Rise Art & Chelsea and Westminster Collection, which is a compilation of works Rise Art has donated to the hospital. Take a look here.
Rise Art's ART FOR CARE donates a children's Art kit to a London hospital every time one of our members makes a purchase. We work closely with Charities and Hospitals in order to give back as much as possible. If you want to learn more about ART FOR CARE click HERE.