Saolta Arts and Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture presents A Deeper Shade of Green as part of The Deepest Shade of Green.
I was diagnosed in February 2017 with high level breast cancer… I went out on long term sick leave and began eight rounds of chemotherapy. It was gruelling.
I was given a bed in the old ward on the top floor. The first thing I noticed was the window and the magnificent view out to the sea. This lifted my spirits immediately. You could see all over the city. I would sit in a chair and gaze out looking at the movement of the clouds and the wind on the trees. I also made sketches of the skyline and felt much more contented because of this window.
Through each hospitalisation and treatment, I have, like most others I imagine, looked around my new surroundings and tried to draw comfort from what I see.
I ask myself: What can I have around me that will make these days or weeks bearable? How will I pass my day? Do I want the television near me or not? Can I reach my locker without stretching? Because stretching causes pain. How do I create my own personal space? How do I go about creating company? Fun? Stimulation? Distraction? Peace?
Each new setting came with it its own challenges, every hospital different. For me the treatment itself was in some ways the lower stress inducer. It was always explained by the doctors and managed by the nurses very well. I knew what was ahead of me… The sensory environment around me was crucial in tipping my balance into despair or coping.
Extract of a letter from a patient, University Hospital Galway, 2018
In Notes on Healing, Florence Nightingale wrote that the greatest challenge for the fevered patient was not being able to see out of a window. Closing The Deepest Shade of Green programme, an exhibition at University Hospital Galway explores the interface between the natural world and the clinical setting – from virtual skylights in Radiology suites, to glazed forests within foyers, to rooftop farms, and artworks projecting nature onto walls. At the heart of the show is a poignant letter from a patient describing the impact of the hospital environment at different stages of her cancer journey and the significance of a view from her bed on the top floor of University Hospital Galway.
Presenting patient and staff testimonies alongside global exemplars of biophilic design, art, and hospital gardens used for therapies and patients’ meals, the exhibition takes its title from a publication of writing by patients of Merlin Park University Hospital. Built for the open-air treatment of tuberculosis, as the isolated units of this former sanatorium were once again repurposed in preparation for Coronavirus, and as its leafy grounds await a new elective hospital, A Deeper Shade of Green highlights how nature, design, and clinical standards can coexist to enhance the hospital experience for everyone. Whilst ongoing visiting restrictions preclude public access, the exhibition will serve as a research document to garner support for the integration of green spaces in future builds ensuring that, in the wake of a pandemic, our hospitals of the future need not be the stark, sterile environments of the past.
Photography Saolta Arts
Exhibition is not open to the public