10 September 2018

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



15 September 2017

unveiling-a-kaleidoscope-of-butterflies-1‘A Kaleidoscope of Butterflies’, The Royal Bournemouth Hospital Organ Donation Commemorative artwork was officially unveiled on Friday 8 September, a date specially chosen during Organ Donation Week.

unveiling-the-plaque-with-Lottie-&-MichelleMany organ donor families were invited, a very moving experience for all. Michelle (CLOD, Clinical Lead Organ Donation) gave a short speech to thank everyone, especially the organ donor families, while Lottie unveiled the plaque. Tony took photos of the event (apart from the one above). My only job was to turn the lights of the sculpture on so that the full beauty of the suspended butterflies could be appreciated.


13 September 2017

indiviually coloured butterfliesJOURNEY TO THE SOUTH COAST

So … the butterflies are complete, each one individually coloured and lacquered then connected to a thin metal wire before being sealed safely inside their own envelope. The top hanging plate is fitted with electrics ready to be connected to the hoist already installed in the main atrium at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital by the estates department. Everything, including the information plaque, is wrapped in multiple layers of bubble wrap to keep safe during the journey down to the south coast.

hanging-the-top-plate-from-belowA BIT OF HEAVY WORK!

Installation starts after evening visiting hours. We wait for the last individuals to leave via the staircase before we can tape off the area and begin to lower the hoist in readiness to attach the top hanging plate and then fix the eight eyeball spotlights into their allocated apertures. Big thanks to Lottie (SNOD, Senior Nurse Organ Donation, at Royal Bournemouth) who turned up with three large bags of chocolates to give us plenty of energy during our night stint!

hanging-the-top-plate-from-aboveThis photo demonstrates how the vertical ‘lip’ on the top plate hides all the necessary electrics. It also shows the numbering so we knew exactly which butterfly to fit to which pinprick!

threading-butterflies-one-by-oneONE HUNDRED BUTTERFLIES

It isn’t until after midnight that we can begin to attach the butterflies. Every numbered envelope contains a single butterfly fitted with a different length of wire. Each number corresponds to a numbered hole the size of a pinprick on the top hanging plate. Really the only way to see each particular hole is by shining a torchlight through from above. It is that exact! So … it’s spectacles at the ready, utilise my previous curtain making skills, and begin this precise threading the needle type of activity!

crimping-butterflies-from-aboveEach wire thread is crimped and held into place from above before the next butterfly is selected.

hoist-going-upWhen all one hundred butterflies are in place it’s time to work the wonders of the hoist. It’s not until the completed sculpture clicks into the mechanics already assembled in the roof space that the lights come on – to accompanying “wows and ahhs” from all four of us doing the night shift!


12 September 2017

first-designsModern digital communication is a wonderful thing! Before our first face-to-face meeting with the organ donation committee at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, we had already received photos of a potential location for the artwork and designed concepts that were revised a number of times. One concept, as Bournemouth is a seaside town, was to utilise seashells in a ‘Fibonacci’ inspired spiral.

four-butterfly-photosWHY BUTTERFLIES?

Initial feedback was, the committee loved the suspended spiral sculpture but preferred the use of butterflies instead of seashells. Reason being; when a patient is going through end of life care at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital images of blue butterflies are attached to drawn curtains to ensure the patient and visitors are left in peace.

Also, butterflies, through their ongoing life cycles, capture the idea of metamorphosis or rebirth. Therefore, butterflies link perfectly as a thought provoking visual metaphor with the theme of organ donation when associated with ‘the Gift of Life’ wording. And of course, as perfectionists, to reflect the region where the hospital is situated we chose to represent species of butterflies found at Dorset Nature Reserves as a creative starting point.


We designed four large-scale butterflies to be created from lightweight anodised aluminium, detailed patterns cut out of the metal to resemble the wing shapes and patterns of original butterfly species. The material and technique chosen ensures each butterfly will have strength for longevity and safety in a hospital environment whilst conveying a fragile, lacy and also a seemingly transparent beauty. To design each one took time; sketching out many shapes, then hand cutting the forms from thin card to ensure that each butterfly featured beautiful silhouettes that wouldn’t collapse when held up to the light.


Each butterfly was never meant to be an exact depiction, but rather a creative representation. We chose four colourways, purple to blue to turquoise to green, to harmonise collectively and complement colours already in use at the hospital. So the next undertaking was to create four coloured patterns of shimmering iridescent colours that resemble the flash of a butterflies’ wing in its fluttering flight. Working alongside the specialists, Digital Plus, a complex technique was devised to individually print and lacquer these patterns onto the aluminium butterfly shapes so that they glimmer and shine in the barest of lights.

half-scale-mockupHALF SCALE MOCK-UP

We created a half-scale model to determine positioning and quantity of butterflies and cable lengths. This stage is essential before creating all components of the final sculpture!


So many technicalities: choosing lights that will show up every section of the sculpture magnificently, choice of hoist so that the completed sculpture can be kept spotless, what type of scissor lift to use for installing as safely as possible, etc, etc. And of course, everything discussed many times with the hospital estates department and health and safety carefully considered.


To ensure all medical staff, patients and visitors to the hospital can fully understand the importance of the suspended sculpture now residing in the main atrium of their hospital we always design an additional wall plaque that succinctly explains it all!


12 June 2017

blog-stages-of-design-20We have a number of projects where our initial ideas have been viewed, favourites chosen and agreed upon. Here is one of them depicting the beginnings of the next stage.


19 September 2014

Bangor Glass Fish close-upIn September 2013 members of an Organ Donor Committee in North Wales contacted us after viewing our Organ Donor Memorial Artwork for the Royal Berkshire Hospital. Their brief was for us to design something comparable for two of their hospitals in North Wales: Wrexham Maelor Hospital and Bangor Ysbyty Gwynedd Hospital.

This was the start of two extensive projects that evolved and developed culminating with impressive, unique artworks that have received a great deal of complimentary feedback, and taken Tony and myself through many demanding, yet very enjoyable processes, and a steep learning curve! After viewing the chosen sites in both hospitals we realised that two different routes had to be taken to create artworks that will be both beautiful and an inspiration to potential organ donors.


The site chosen for this artwork is the atrium of the main entrance to the hospital, but above normal sightlines, as people pass through to reach their destinations within the hospital. So therefore we needed to entice the viewer to look upwards as they enter this area.

Wrexham Maelor Artwork SiteAn important feature of the entrance corridor is the pitched glass atrium that floods the area with natural light. This immediately generated creative thoughts – why not utilise a medium that would make full use of this available light to create shimmering shapes and colourful shadows.

We have long wished to work with glass, used selectively to create impact, and we excitedly considered how this medium would be perfect to give personality to this brightly lit environment.

Wrexham Hospital – First PresentationWe designed a concept that would fill both side walls using key messages about organ donation in waves interspersed with flowing lines of fluttering butterflies, leading the eye to the end wall where the key message would be situated. A sculpture, using the same elements featured on the walls, was designed to hang from the apex of the corridor, its primary objective being to encourage the viewer to look upwards and discover!


Not having worked with glass before this turned out to be a more complicated process than we first appreciated. We had designed a simple, but attractively shaped butterfly that we thought would be easily achievable in the medium of glass. It turned out that – yes this could easily be made in glass – but only to the size of a piece of jewellery – we needed butterflies up to a wingspan of 35cms!

Our thoughts were that we wanted each butterfly to have strong, intense colours to draw the eye from on high, yet of a brightness that the natural light could shine through creating its own beautiful effect. After many stages working in collaboration with the glass artist we accomplished our objectives and created four different coloured and styled glass butterflies that we could also enhance and reproduce for all parts of the artwork.

Butterflies – 1st designs & glass counterpartOriginal butterfly design above left, final butterflies above right.


This was our first exploration into producing sculpture, and of a scale that justified our detailed specification of the glass butterflies to match our initial concept. The sculpture was so important to the whole artwork, needing to look simply stunning. It had to work as part of the whole design but also as a standalone piece of art, with a beautiful, coloured transparency that would shimmer and send reflections from on above – replicating the form of real fluttering butterflies.

Wrexham Sculpture - lettering mock-up Other considerations were essential with this sculpture – will it be rigid enough to resist any draft from the entrance doors, and also will the supporting steel be thin enough to accurately laser cut the lettering, yet bear the weight of many large scale glass butterflies? First designs had been lightweight and adaptations were made so that the rods that fixed the angled butterflies were attached to a thicker, stronger brushed steel ring while the cutout lettering was on a separate thinner polished steel inner ring.

Wrexham – Glass & Steel Sculpture At last we had butterfly forms we were delighted with, and we replicated them onto the printed wall artworks replacing the earlier versions, to create a cohesive artwork. Spaces were left along the flowing lines for the larger hand crafted glass butterflies – to be fitted with spacers and give the impression that they are fluttering towards the viewer. The end wall, facing visitors as they enter the hospital, carries the message – Rhodd o Fywydd – Gift of Life – in bright colourful trailing letters that lead the eye to the artwork on the adjoining walls, with weaving trails of fluttering butterflies.


The site chosen for this artwork is in a large stairwell to the side of the revolving doorway of the main entrance to the hospital. This is a large, self-contained area and we immediately visualised utilising all 4 walls to create an artwork that will be viewed through 360 degrees and from all levels.

Bangor Hospital Artwork Site There were two dilemmas that we needed to overcome. The first – that the space is moodily lit with low-level wall lights. Our inspiration was to create a sculptural artwork with integral lighting, using the sparsely lit walls to create atmosphere. The second – this is a space that the general public do not normally enter, this area only being in general line of sight as you leave the hospital. We therefore had to create a something to draw people in.

Sculpture for Bangor – 2 optionsThe theme we chose reflects Bangor’s coastal location and also infers the beginnings of life. Our first concepts proposed to use the medium of glass to represent the transparency of the sea and the use of slate, as the area is well known for high quality slate mining.

A wave of emotive messages linked to organ donation would echo the waves of the sea and shoaling fish, which then leap out of the sea and morph into a heart shape.

We also wanted to include a design influenced by the Celtic knot, as a copper inlay that would be contained within each fish. Part of this shape would be formed into a heart to further enhance the message of the Gift of Life. As visitors enter the hospital we proposed to use semi- transparent fish on the glass wall on the left to draw the eye and entice people to view the complete artwork.

We also designed a steel and glass sculpture – an upward spiralling vortex of shoaling fish! At this stage there were 2 options on how this might be completed as shown above. Beautiful transluscent glass fish would be suspended on fine wires from a stainless steel spiral, which would give dynamic structure to the piece. The use of glass for the fish, complete with integral lighting for both options, would provide extra light and animate this relatively dark space with reflected, iridescent light.

Development of glass fish

We researched glass artists right across the UK to find someone who could make such a large structure! Eventually we chose a glass artist with a commercial production capacity because her shapes were most similar to our original designs and we knew that the scale of the project would not phase her! But we also loved the colour and texture created with air bubbles through her fused glass fish. From initial samples we asked if it would be possible to make the bubbles even more of a feature and could the blue/green colours be intensified. Before this project the glass fish had generally been produced for wall mounting where the use of a background would naturally enrich the colours, but we realised that the colours would be too translucent for our freestanding purpose.

For the sculpture, our clients had chosen the ceiling suspended option. After consulting with steel specialists, our initial design was adapted and modified taking into consideration, strength, rigidity and weight issues.


Scaffolding at Wrexham HospitalAs working hospitals operate for 24 hours, 7 days a week, installation had been planned meticulously to take place at their quietest times. At Wrexham this scenario was not necessary as the whole area was scaffolded and visitors used an adjacent entrance. Both hospitals needed to remove some signage, lighting and repaint walls, and this was completed the weekend before the main installation date. We had the feeling that most people were totally unaware that something more dynamic than just a lick of paint was occurring in their hospital.

Fitting the Steel Calligraphy (& Supporting) Rings We are always involved in the installation of all our projects. Sometimes this may only be directing, checking everything is fitted in the right places, other times it is more involved; this was the case with both these hospitals. It’s always a time of great anticipation and excitement, but can also be very tiring and a little bit stressful.

We started on a Friday morning at Wrexham, meeting with glass artist Jo and her assistant Adrian, to help and co-ordinate the installation of the glass and steel butterfly sculpture. Visitors to the hospital watched with puzzlement as we climbed the ladder and disappeared through a space in the planking above their view carrying shiny steel shapes and large glass butterflies! The atmosphere was very humid as sunlight streamed through the glass roof and we were constantly aware of working safely! The installation all went to plan, and we all helped position and clean the steel and glass. The individual pieces had turned into a beautiful swirling mass of fluttering butterflies, lit brilliantly from the bright natural light casting wonderful tones around the space.

Beautiful Butterfly Sculpture & its fitters We then drove straight to Bangor, but following some problems with the installation of the electric winch, it was not until after 7pm that we could actually get started with the installation. During the development of the glasswork we travelled to Corwall for a 4 day workshop trip to develop the detailing with Jo and her team. After this we had only seen the final fish in photos – over 100 had been hand-produced and it was wonderful to handle these spectacular pieces with their beauty of form and translucent yet rich colours. Every one slightly different.

Bangor - First Stage of Sculpture Installation The sculpture was installed in stages starting with the hanging of the main structure of stainless steel rings and connecting wiring for the integral led spotlights to the electric winch. Next came the inner spiral of fish. Every fish had been prepared with holes drilled for fixings and then curved to match the spiral. Jo and Adrian attached the fish with fine steel cables, using a 10m boom lift and low level stepladders to reach the awkward areas. Tony became main photographer and I was the fittings assistant, making sure that both fitters were handed their next fish in turn. After all had been fitted and everything cleaned the winch was electrically lifted into place into the ceiling.

WOW momment! This became a bit of a ‘wow’ moment for us all because as soon as the sculpture engaged with the electrics in the ceiling the lights came on! Before this our personal energy levels were beginning to droop, it had been a long day and was now way past midnight, but suddenly we were all totally energised with the astounding view. I can only explain the feeling as akin to your first breathless view of an outstanding landmark. We had achieved what we had hoped for, a swirling vortex of atmospherically lit fish, something that an undersea nature programme might feature and only scuba divers might encounter personally.

Bangor - vinyl elements applied to walls & windowsand Saturday morning we met up with John and Chris, the installation team that we had already worked with on the Royal Berkshire Gift of Life.

Bangor – Complete Installation + Tony The artwork for the walls was printed in sections, which had to be taped into position first of all before the backing could be peeled off and the art rubbed into place. It was all a similar process for the vinyl fish on the windows – 8 separate panes in all. Shoals of fish echoing the vortex of glass fish!

Wrexham vinyl artwork – fitting processThat night was our second night in Bangor, then we rose early to travel back to Wrexham to complete the installation of the wall artworks with our excellent installers there too – finally finished at 5pm on Sunday!

Wrexham – a glass butterfly is added Here are some images of the installation process – which explains far more clearly than words can do!

Karen oversees installation at Wrexham


5 August 2014

We are now at the stage where 2 major projects we have been working on over the last 12 months are in the final stages – ready to be installed for all to see! For now, here is just a glimpse of one of these projects at final artwork stage.Wrexham Hospital Organ Donor ArtEveryone is very excited at being involved in two such inspirational and exceptional endeavours. The commissions for both hospitals utilises unique large-scale, yet hand-made glass pieces, elegant and stimulating wall art and impressive suspended glass and metal sculptures.

We will post more details as soon as both artworks have been installed!

International FESPA Award for ‘Berkshire Butterflies’ Organ Donor Art

11 June 2014

Gift of life ArtworkInternational FESPA Award for ‘Berkshire Butterflies’ Organ Donor Art

We are very proud and delighted that our Organ Donation Artwork for the Royal Berkshire Hospital has won Bronze in the worldwide FESPA Awards held in Munich.

Taking home Bronze in the Interior Decoration category, the artwork is created almost entirely of butterflies gathering together to form a heart shape representing ‘The Gift of Life’.

This award, entered by our partners Digital Plus, who printed and installed the project, is greatly deserved for their attention to detail and superb quality workmanship.


21 November 2012

On Monday our project also featured in the Yorkshire Evening Post. We have received even more positive feedback including the quote below. Other quotes appear on our gallery page where the Royal Berkshire Hospital Organ Donation Art features.

“The mural is absolutely terrific and captures the essence of what it all means. From chrysalis to butterfly – anyone who’s had a donation will know exactly how that feels.”

Retired Minister, Tilehurst Free Church, Reading, Berkshire


16 November 2012

Wow! Since the Organ Donation artwork has been installed it’s been a roller coaster of news reports and amazing reviews!

On Wednesday 14 November transplant patients were invited into the Royal Berkshire Hospital to meet the media at a press launch for the project. On that day it featured on the BBC Local News (Oxford) during breakfast, lunch and evening broadcasts!

Click on the link below to view our edited version of the BBC News coverage on Vimeo

It was also included in their local newspaper and achieved international fame when it featured on the Organ & Tissue Donation Blog based in California!

Feedback has included:

“Spanning a wall, the eye-catching butterflies come alive with a striking 3D effect, which also promotes a powerful message to the people who have given ‘the gift of life’ and will hopefully inspire others to become donors.”

Before his double lung transplant two years ago, Tilehurst man Richard Burbedge could not walk without being linked to an oxygen supply. About the ‘sculpture’ he said: “It provokes thought about organ donation, but is also a sign of being reborn. The enormity of the piece really helps to get the message across. Organ donation has transformed my life beyond recognition. It’s the greatest gift that you can give. And if you’ve never talked about it, please do, as you could be someone’s hero as my donor is to me. It’s an incredible gift.”