Basingstoke-unveiling-with-KarenLOCATION – DECISIONS DECISIONS

Before our first meeting with the organ donor committee, photographs were emailed of a range of potential locations, some internal and some external. We were also informed that there were two hospitals in Hampshire: Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester and North Hampshire Hospital in Basingstoke, and both wanted a version of the same artwork.

After visiting both hospitals, camera at the ready, we recommended outdoor locations, where artworks could be permanently displayed in tranquil areas and where relatives of organ donors could spend time in remembrance of their loved ones.

Winchester location on a grassy slope Basingstoke in a courtyard within the hospitalWHY AN HOURGLASS OF BUTTERFLIES?

Our creative process determined that an external sculpture was the only answer and we initially came up with two concepts.

Our clients were instantly drawn to the idea of an hourglass to imply the passing of time. Patients waiting to receive the ‘gift of life’ from an organ donor often fear that time is running out. For this sculpture we have replaced the grains of sand with a positive image of butterflies flying free from the top of an hourglass, a message of freedom and a celebration of life. Butterflies are a powerful symbol of metamorphosis and evoke a positive metaphor for the transformation donor recipient’s experience.

We chose four butterflies to represent the many species found in the regions’ national parks and nature reserves – Marbled White, Brown Argus, Painted Lady and Chalkhill Blue.

02-Butterflies-original&drawnJANE AUSTEN

Jane Austen, one of England’s greatest novelists, lived in Hampshire, the locality being an inspiration to many of her novels. We have taken a quote from her novel ‘Sense and Sensibility’ that stirs the heart to encourage more people to join the organ donor register. This features on all plaques.


Designing the hourglass and butterflies was a complicated process, as we wanted the butterflies to have a look of fragility whilst being totally robust. A see-through quality was achieved by having the sculpture laser cut from brushed stainless steel, polished to shimmer in sunlight much as butterflies do as they flutter about.

This proved to be a technical challenge! Finally after a great deal of research, followed by countless meetings with steel specialists, metal fabricators, stove enamel and zinc cladding experts, we managed to find the right combination to work with us to create the whole sculptures, plinths, plaques – and carry out the specialist installation under our guidance. We would very much like to thank Watsons in Barnsley, working in close partnership with Elecfab in Rotherham, for their painstaking attention to detail and specialist expertise – when others were telling us the project was impossible to achieve!

The intricate patterns of each butterfly were copper stove enamelled on both sides of the sculpture and all was finished with a gloss stoved protective coating.


A great deal of thought was given to the construction of the plinth, both from a strength and durability standpoint, and also stylistically. The internal structure is constructed from strengthened stainless steel that was fixed to the deep concrete base. The outer sleeve is of zinc, with a weathered finish giving a matt patina that contrasts beautifully with the sheen of the sculpture above.


The information plaques were completed from brushed stainless steel to match the butterflies. These were fitted to the front and back of both sculptures. Another to a separate post.


A team of five travelled down to the two sites the week before the unveiling ceremonies. Here are two photos that give a glimpse of the heavy work that entailed. Glad I was the one taking the photos!!

We are so grateful for all the hard work by the estates departments at both hospitals in preparing the sites ready for installation. This entailed preparation of concrete bases and re-landscaping after installation, also at Basingstoke painting of all walls and woodwork in the courtyard and planting with new flowering plants in borders, hanging baskets and planters.

07-Installation-at-WinchesterPLAQUE FOR WHEELCHAIR USERS

Due to the siting of the sculpture at Winchester Hospital, a sloping lawned area, we felt this may have been too problematic for wheelchair users to get close enough to read the plaque, so a post was constructed and fitted next to the path.


The special event to unveil the artwork in Basingstoke was attended by family members whose loved ones gave an incredible gift by becoming organ donors, as well as members of staff from the hospitals who have supported families through organ donation, and staff from the NHS Blood and Transplant team including Jeremy Brown, team manager for south central organ donation and transplant and Susan Richards, regional manager for organ donation and transplant.

Susan Parker was there to remember her daughter Hannah who sadly passed away aged just 17 in 2005 after contracting meningitis.

Sue said: “It was never a question about whether or not we would support organ donation, I knew it was something we had to do. At such a difficult and traumatic time, it was an easy decision to make and all of the staff were absolutely fantastic throughout our entire journey.”

The day had even more significance for Sue, as it was her birthday on the day of the unveiling. She added: “It’s of course really emotional being here today, but the sculpture is beautiful and being able to remember Hannah in this way on my birthday has made it even more special. I come to the hospital quite often, so will be making regular visits to remember my amazing daughter and others like her who have changed the lives of so many others.”

Colin Jeffery understands of the impact of organ donation more than most, having first-hand experience of both making that important decision on behalf of a loved one, and also as an organ recipient some years later. Colin lost his son, Ian, 11 years ago and made the courageous decision at the time to donate his organs. Over the years the family have received letters from some of the recipients, describing how thanks to the incredible gift they have led entirely different lives to the ones they were leading before this life-changing act. Years later, Colin was the recipient of a kidney transplant and has seen how life-changing organ and tissue donation can be first hand.

He said: “I probably would’ve died without it, and there are so many things about life I can enjoy now that just wasn’t possible before. I think this sculpture is amazing, I have collected butterflies for years, so this is a very personal and fitting tribute for me. I hope this encourages other people to support organ donation when they see the sculpture and think about the people it represents.”

09-Unveiling-at-Basingstoke-with-Alex-Donna-LauraJohn Emery saw the unveiling of the sculpture at the hospital in Winchester with his daughter Alison to remember his wife Molly, who sadly passed away at the age of 68 in November 2011. Molly had always been a vocal supporter of organ donation and had carried an organ donation card.

John said: “Even though it was a really difficult time for us all, making the decision was really easy because we knew it was what she wanted. It makes me really proud of her to know that she has helped other people.”

Alison now carries an organ donor card herself and encourages other people to support organ donation and have the all-important conversation with their families.

10-Unveiling-at-Winchester-with-Rachel-LauraIn the last four years, 428 people across Hampshire have received a life-saving organ donation from deceased organ donors.

Last year over 400 patients died in the UK awaiting a transplant but through these sculptures, the Trust hopes to empower more families to have a conversation about organ and tissue donation, and ultimately save more lives.

To sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register, visit and tell your family that you want them to support your decision.

Above text extracts courtesy of Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust


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