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MEDWAY MARITIME HOSPITAL ORGAN DONOR COMMEMORATIVE ART ‘BIRDS OF THE ESTUARY’ IS NOW INSTALLED

Karen in Medway Hospital atrium with Brent Goose The question is how to recreate our concept ideas and designs into an impressive three-dimensional artwork that fits onto a wall 15m high x 18.5m wide? Obviously impossible to achieve without plenty of pre-planning and co-ordination on the parts of ourselves, our production and installation team and of course everyone involved at the hospital!

Part of the hospitals’ main atrium was already cordoned off, as the main wall was re-painted in white to cover the previous red. The largest size scissor lift available for the space was pre-ordered to be in place ready and waiting for the start of installation. Our team had arrived the day before to be briefed on health and safety within the hospital. Inside their large van over 120 carefully wrapped birds lay waiting, ready to be set free!

Positioning birds on the heart templateFirst stage was to lay out the pre-printed template for the central heart of birds. All birds were specifically numbered – they just needed to be found and systematically positioned on their allocated outline on this template. When all were in place we marked the position of the drill holes for the stand off barrel mount fixings before the template was taken up in the scissor lift, and taped in place on the wall.

John and Phil begin installationIt’s quite amazing to see how a scissor lift works but I don’t think I would like to go up in one, especially not as high as our installers needed to go with this particular project! Fortunately John and Phil have loads of training and experience and were totally undaunted!

Heart shape begins to appear as birds are fixed in placeParts of the template were gradually cut away as the installation progressed. It was a long and painstaking process and the scissor lift needed to descend to pick up other batches of birds many times. It’s during these times, when the lift has descended, that we can view the gradual creation of our design – a very humbling yet exciting process, like watching a stop-frame animation film!

Close-up of the 'heart of birds'Of course we also analyse the gradual development by ascending to a higher floor in the hospital and viewing from above. I met many people while overseeing our developing project who made enquiries about the meaning of the artwork and in return give wonderful and appreciative feedback. Though, as soon as the wording ‘the Gift of Life’ was fitted most people understand the nature of the piece without need for enquiry!

Register to become an organ donor plaqueNext stage was to fit the undulating supplementary text and mount the plaque that succinctly explains the artwork and has specific details on how to register to become an organ donor.

Tony creating templates for a group of Brent GeeseAfter this all the other birds were installed, those that gather together in groups to fly towards the already complete birds forming the heart shape. We decided to create templates for these groups of birds rather than trying to visually piece together the installation from afar. This entailed a lot of kneeing down on a hard floor, taping together pieces of paper, drawing a grid on these pieces of paper, finding the relevant birds, placing in the right places by utilising the grid, then drawing around each one. (Wished I’d taken my kneepads!) Hard work, but once we got stuck in very enjoyable. Turns out that it saved a lot of time, and our original design and detailed plan was closely adhered to.

Scissor lift at its highest point!This image shows the scissor lift at its most extended whilst fitting Dunlin and Turnstone birds that soar towards the highest part of the wall, representing freedom and new life.

Dunlin, Turnstone and Avocet birds in flightA close-up showing various birds flocking together; flying towards those already congregating to form the heart shape.

Panorama of the completed artworkThis photo clearly depicts the sheer scale of the completed installation.

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