Colourful creations by school students unveiled at Berwick hospital site

Graffiti-inspired works by students at Berwick Academy are brightening up hoardings behind which work is on-going to build the town’s new hospital.

By Andrew Coulson
Friday, 5th August 2022, 2:55 pm

The art now on display at the Berwick Infirmary site was created by a group of Year 9 pupils during lockdown.

They used their learning about graffiti art in a bid to decorate the area around the hospital and share messages about important health issues.

Describing the ideas behind the artworks that are based on three themes – physical health, emotional well-being and mental health – the students involved said: “It’s important to try to make people not feel alone and we have tried to do it in a bright, colourful, and helpful way with our art designs.

Ann Corak, sister at Berwick Infirmary, with former teacher Pauline Plenderleith and Berwick Academy students who are going to be involved in the next project.

“It’s important to understand and try to help people who suffer from any health issues, anxieties and stress, especially during a pandemic. It’s also important for people to know that ‘graffiti’ doesn’t always have to be vandalism and people like Banksy, Keith Haring and us can use it to give positive messages and make people think.”

Former teacher Pauline Plenderleith, who managed the project for the academy, said: “This was a fantastic project to work on as it really showcased the links between art and well-being, which was even more important during the (Covid-19) pandemic when many people may have found it difficult to cope with isolation and anxiety.”

The initiative was supported by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s Bright charity, which for the past 20 years has developed an award-winning healing arts programme.

It uses art as a therapeutic medium to improve the hospital environment for patients, visitors, staff and the local community.

Some of the art on display at the Berwick Infirmary site.

Brenda Longstaff, head of the Bright charity, said: “We know the key role that art can play in supporting patients and visitors to our hospitals, so it’s great that we are able to take it outside as well and brighten up this area while work continues on the new hospital.

“It was also really worthwhile involving the young people in this project as they have their own views and experiences of health and well-being, and we are going to be working with more students from Berwick Academy moving forward.”

The on-going work is part of a £30million project to build a state-of-the-art new hospital to serve communities in Berwick and beyond.

Some of the art on display at the Berwick Infirmary site.