Building Better Healthcare feature Yarm Heritage Display

2 May 2012

The following link takes you through to the feature.


24 February 2012

Received a load of photos yesterday from Praxis, the printers who are producing the Yarm mural as a banner for the new Medical Centre.

Thanks for the photos, it looks fantastic! Can’t wait to see it installed.


15 February 2012

Here I am (Karen) photographed while contemplating an image just scanned in from the archives in Yarm Town Hall.

We both spent an enjoyable day in Yarm; it’s lovely to get out and about. On our research days, Tony and myself work together to achieve the best results in the shortest possible timescale. Tony photographs 3D objects like shields, trophies, medals, etc., and also helps to take apart framed images so that I can scan them at a high resolution. All images are replaced carefully back into their frames, we take along plenty of tape, a small hammer and a tin of tacks specially for the job!


7 February 2012

I’m just about to start on the final artwork for a large portrait mural that will adorn the entrance of a new Medical Centre being constructed at this very moment in the small town of Yarm in Cleveland.

Dr Neil Reynolds of Yarm Medical Centre expressed his delight in the beauty of his home-town, wishing to display the history of the town as an artwork in the new medical centre. Tony set off for his first meeting armed with notepad and camera and returned later armed with plenty of photos and an initial brief. Unfortunately a photograph would not be able to do justice to the town’s beauty due to all the additions of any modern street scene: bus shelters, parked vehicles, gaudy shop posters. With utter joy I realised I could put my illustrative skills to perfect use! Our concept was to create a modern version of the old 1930s travel posters, using bright colours and dramatic shadows, as shown in detail below.

I had already illustrated half the townscape when Tony returned to Yarm a few weeks later, with me in tow. I needed a few more photos of the town to check what one or two of the buildings really looked like behind that parked van. With Dr Reynolds guidance of what he wished to include, we spent the rest of the day inside Yarm Town Hall researching and scanning historic information, ready to put together a brief history of the town that would accompany the illustration.


13 July 2011

The Stead Hospital mural was officially unveiled on 5 July by the League of Friends and the Chair of NHS Redcar and Cleveland.

I commented on how everyone was dressed up in beautiful colours suitable for a summers day apart from myself, (I was dressed up, but in black and white). Joan Elders of the League of Friends gave a speech and I was thrilled to be presented with a large colourful bunch of flowers which totally cheered up my outfit! Tony was also presented with a bottle of wine.


28 March 2011

We worked alongside The League of Friends of the Stead Hospital throughout this project and their response has been enthusiastic at all times. When we are given a free reign (as we are very lucky to be able to do on most projects), we are able to really push the boundaries to complete a project that is immensely satisfying to ourselves and to all those involved.  We are extremely pleased with the finished mural with its laser cut stainless steel frame, and to receive the following letter just adds to our sense of pride that we have achieved the best job possible.

“Dear Karen and Tony

Peter and I called in Redcar Hospital today to view the completed artwork. We were very impressed; we think you’ve done a fantastic job. I’m sure all our members will be happy with it. It’s been lovely meeting you both and thanks for the wonderful mural; you are very talented. Look forward to seeing you at the unveiling.”

Joan Elders, Chairman of The League of Friends of the Stead Hospital, Redcar


26 January 2011

We’ve recently been working on a very enjoyable project since before Christmas, and it’s just about ready to go to print. I’ve particularly really enjoyed researching and illustrating the special border.

Iron and steel has always been an important industry in the area. Driving to Redcar for the first time took us next to the very heartland of the steelworks, and we saw some pretty amazing views, as this next image shows perfectly.

We were so inspired – this fantastic industrial landscape just had to be incorporated in the mural! After sketching out a number of ideas we came up with the concept of illustrating – the skyline of the industrial landscape.  This meant drawing out the dramatic silhouette of the horizon – but in negative form, to be then cut out of a stainless steel frame.  This means that the steel frame represents the sky above Redcar!

After our first meeting at the new hospital in Redcar we decided to have a look around the region – as we always do with new projects. It’s an invaluable aid to inspiration. First we visited the old, now boarded up, Stead Hospital, and the cemetery nearby to search out gravestones of the original Stead family. I’m not a big one for cemeteries normally, but….  Then on to the seaside! It was here we discovered the stunning coastline backed with dunes – and Coatham Marsh, a 134 acre wetland nature reserve.

Thanks to the web we were able to make contact with Steve Ashton, People and Wildlife Manager for the Tees Valley Wildlife Trust. Working in collaboration with him we were able to discover much more about the plants, animals and birdlife that inhabit the marsh. I have always been besotted with wildlife in general, and illustrating the border for the bottom of the mural in a way that will engage with children, has been a total joy to work on. I chose to illustrate it in a layered silhouette style; to amalgamate with, but also stand out from, the history information on the mural.

We have also created a ‘Colour Me In’ nature spotting leaflet that works in conjunction with the marsh illustration on the mural. This can be given out by hospital reception staff to keep children amused while visiting the hospital.

Can’t wait to see the finished mural all in place at the hospital with its specially cut out steel frame. We have already had some very good feedback from everyone we have worked with: from Malcolm Brydon, co-ordinator for the project, The League of Friends who have part funded the work, and Steve Ashton from the Tees Valley Wildlife Trust who emailed specially to tell us – ‘Very impressed with what you have done so far.’


23 October 2010

We are very excited to be able to tell you about our latest project for NHS Redcar and Cleveland and the Stead Memorial Hospitals League of Friends. We are creating a unique heritage mural for the new hospital, to enable visitors to discover more about the now closed Stead Hospitals history.

The display will include a written history, photos, memorabilia, documents and artefacts. Hospital staff, former patients and local families, are being encouraged to play their part in the history project by sharing memories dating right back to when the Stead first opened in 1929. Shown above is the approved design visualisation as it might appear; one of four options shown at the very well attended public meeting held at the hospital on the 6th October 2010.

Dr John Stead was not a doctor of medicine but a highly qualified and distinguished Doctor of Science, specialising in metallurgy and specifically in the extraction of iron from its ore. After he died, in 1923, his family bequeathed his home to the local council to turn into a Cottage Hospital.

The landscape of Redcar and its surroundings are dominated by the stunning coastline, with its 8 mile long beach backed with dunes and nature reserve wetlands. This natural beauty contrasts with the dramatic silhouettes on the horizon of the steelworks and blast furnace, the Tees estuary teeming with cargo vessels, and the industrial complex at Wilton.

To do justice to the history of the Stead Memorial Hospital we aim to show its role at the heart of the Redcar community, set within its dramatic industrial and natural surroundings. We also aim to emphasize the impact and importance of the steel industry, without which the hospital would not have existed.

Local history and heritage should be made accessible to all ages and one of the projects aims is to encourage children, both in school parties and individually with their parents, to look at the display, to ask questions and find answers both about the hospital and the local environment. With this in mind we are working with local schools to devise a history project about the Stead Hospital allowing them to find the answers in the mural.

Coatham Marsh is a 134 acre nature reserve which attracts a diverse and important range of wildlife and birds. We are working with Tees Valley Wildlife Trust to include silhouette illustrations of the flora and fauna at the wildlife sanctuary as a border to the mural. The aim being to create a booklet, as a downloadable online resource, in which children can match the silhouettes with full colour illustrations and descriptive text. The digital booklet could also be made available at the hospital, local schools and from the Wildlife Trust.

With the link between the steel industry and the founding of the hospital being so strong, we have designed a polished steel frame incorporating a frieze depicting the dramatic skyline of both the steelworks and industrial complex.

The combination of steel framed frieze, nature reserve silhouette border and the detailed historical mural will, we believe, answer the challenges of creating a dramatic and unique heritage display for Redcar Community Hospital.


1 July 2010

On her retirement in 2006, Margaret sent us a postcard which has remained on our pinboard – “Many thanks for the photograph you presented to me on my retirement – which will be a lovely reminder of our work together on all the murals. They really work well and over time when I’ve been in the hospitals there is always someone stopping to read a bit or just look at the pictures. From the visit to Leeds LGI all those years ago you were a super find – Margaret”.

We first worked with Margaret in 2003 on two murals situated in the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough. She contacted us after seeing the history displays we had created at the Leeds General Infirmary. We were also her first point of call for The Friarage Hospital. A year before, during the building process, it had been decided that a long wall in the hospitals central hub, was to be set aside for a heritage mural to be designed by us. The final mural shown below is our largest individual display to date, at 33ft wide x 8ft high.

Margaret’s achievements at the James Cook University Hospital are well documented. It is like visiting an art gallery full of wonderful examples, from paintings to sculpture and glass art – figurative to conceptual. It is well worth a look if you are in the area. The whole project was studied by the University of Durham and their findings published in their report titled, “Designing for Health: Architecture, Art and Design at the James Cook University Hospital”.


5 November 2009

The ceremony at the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough coincided with the 150th anniversary of the opening of the country’s first cottage hospital on March 7, 1859. A special service was held in the hospital chapel to mark the occasion, and the Archdeacon of Cleveland dedicated the mural. It was all quite a grand affair made even more special by the lunch afterwards, where everyone helped themselves to large portions of scones with clotted cream and jam. Yum Yum!