The John Coupland Community Hospital in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, has a long and interesting history. So when they decided to commission a dramatic artwork for the main link corridor, a heritage project was chosen. This culminated in the new history mural designed by Hospital Art Studio, which portrays their early heritage up to the birth of the NHS.
ABOUT THE HOSPITAL
The Couplands, a local family of prosperous farmers left a complicated will - that if the widow of the remaining son were to remarry a large amount of money would be used to establish a hospital, to be called The John Coupland Hospital. The cottage hospital was opened in 1913 with a formal presentation attended by thousands of people and was designed as a magnificent piece of Georgian-style architecture, with interior walls beautifully panelled in polished oak.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
In June 2009 Jill Anderson, a matron at the John Coupland Hospital, contacted Hospital Art Studio requesting details on the heritage displays the company creates specifically for hospital settings.
Having provided Jill with case studies and planning guidelines, the firm heard nothing more until the following January. In the meantime Anderson had set up a history group made up of past and present staff and other interested parties. They researched the history of the building and the site, and with the help of the Gainsborough District and Heritage Association, and the local library and newspapers they obtained news cuttings and photographs covering the opening and development of the hospital.
The Hospital Art Studio team was then invited to review the information and following this put together a detailed proposal. It was decided to create two distinctly different heritage displays. The first would portray the history from the planning and official opening of the hospital in the early 1900s to the birth of the NHS in 1948. The second would follow work being undertaken to develop the site and will bring the story right up to date.
Once the mural’s overall design was approved, a meeting was arranged in the main boardroom at the John Coupland Hospital. Here the design team used a portable photography studio to photograph and scan all the information that had been collected. This ranged from beautifully scripted handwritten pages from annual meetings books, to original photographs taken temporarily from walls around the hospital. It also included old-fashioned medical instruments and the original ceremonial stonemason’s hammer and trowel.
THE NEXT STAGE
With the aid of the history group, Jill Anderson supplied the designers with a timeline suggesting possible images and reference information. Along with the wide range of artefacts gathered, this was all that was needed for the design team to take over the job of writing up the history of the hospital. Eventually, after careful checking by staff, the design was finalised.
The mural was created in three sections with a solid oak frame. The impressive hospital entrance features centrally, given a reflective finish, cut to shape and over-mounted so that it extends in front of the left and right panels and above the hand-made oak frame. Selected images were also given this treatment to contrast with the matt finish of the main panels and add to the visual impact of mural as a whole.
Commenting on the results of the commission, Jill Anderson said: “John Coupland is a community hospital with a strong sense of ownership by staff, patients and the local community. Our project, influenced by the King’s Fund, Enhancing the Healing Environment project, has allowed us to record and preserve the history of the hospital’s origins, its staff, and how it has developed over the years and share this with others.
“It is a tribute to the enthusiasm and commitment of the small team and the hard work of Karen and Tony at Hospital Art Studio in supporting us and undertaking much of the background work. It was also fantastic to be able to involve members of the community, who shared their photos with us and allowed us to feature their relatives and record their histories as part of the display.
“There is a great sense of achievement and the positive effect of the mural in an otherwise drab corridor is demonstrated daily by the number of people I pass, standing, looking and reading.”