28 March 2011

We ere contacted via email the other day by Andrew Birkitt, Exhibitions Officer and a Founder Member of the Gainsborough and District Heritage Association.

“I understand that your team were responsible for the mural in the John Coupland Hospital in Gainsborough that we were involved in the research of, and I was wondering if you had any interesting photos of the mural that we could use on our fanpage. In the meantime I would like to add my own congratulations on the finished result, it is something I have admired on several occasions.”

The following link takes you through to the feature.


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.’

Case study featured on the BBH and Arts & Health South West Websites

8 October 2010

You can read the case study about the John Coupland Hospital Heritage Mural, featured on the Building Better Healthcare website (with links also from the Arts & Health South West website), by clicking on the links below. Thanks very much to both organisations for your support!


11 August 2010


Installation of the mural showing polished oak frameWe arrived at the hospital the day before the official unveiling along with the specialists we work with for print, construction and installation. Even though we had been to their workshop to double-check everything beforehand, it is always exciting to be on site coordinating the final installation. We had taken close-up photos of the hospital’s wood panelling giving detail of the polished oak grain, the mural frame matched this perfectly. Installation went very smoothly and we were all treated to lunch in the hospital’s canteen. Later we wrapped the mural in brown paper with a poster explaining when it was to be unveiled, and attached a red ribbon tied in a bow.

We travelled again to Lincolnshire the next morning to attend the Hospital’s Open Day. We arrived in Gainsborough to beautiful, hot, sunny weather. There was a lovely ‘garden party’ feel to all the stalls laid out on the large lawn in front of the grand Georgian style hospital. We joined a special guided tour of the operating section of the hospital, where I picked up an old-fashioned operating instrument and (unfortunately) got the answer to, “what exactly were these gruesome looking instruments used for?!”

Bob Rainsford & Ian Loxley unveiling the muralAt the appointed time we gathered in the main corridor, and there was a short speech from Matron Jill Anderson. Two specially invited guests; Bob Rainsford, local dignitary, and Ian Loxley, supplier of the story of WWII shrapnel that had been removed from his mothers’ leg; then cut the ribbon and tore off the brown paper to unveil the mural.

Jill Anderson presenting me with a bunch of flowersMuch to my surprise, I was presented with a large bunch of flowers, and Tony a very nice bottle of wine. It had been a very enjoyable project to work on, and I can’t wait to design the next mural that will follow work to develop the hospital site.


5 August 2010

We first met Gail Bolland back in 1992. At the time Gail was the arts coordinator for Leeds General Infirmary. It was approaching the hospitals 125th anniversary and Gail was tasked with mounting a temporary historical exhibition. To cut a long story short, we ended up creating a permanent display consisting of six photographic murals, each covering a different subject. Seventeen years later and the displays are still there and are used as part of the induction of some of the medical staff.

For over a decade we worked together with Gail on many projects. Gail’s success culminated in the forming of ‘Tonic – the arts pick-me-up” . Delivered by a team of three permanent staff, Gail was assisted by Claire Pope, (pictured with Gail – see note below) and Josie Aston.

Between 1992 and 2004 we designed and created all the promotional literature, leaflets, brochures folders etc for Tonic, along with other poster campaigns for the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. Along the way, promoting the 6 different heritage projects and many other visual and performing arts programmes that Tonic ran under Gail’s watchful eye. I’m sure that we speak for many other artists supported by Tonic, in wishing Gail a very happy and contented retirement in the knowledge that she expertly fundraised and delivered high quality artwork and performing arts programmes, totalling several million pounds, that are highly appreciated across the hospitals of Leeds.

You can see all the projects we worked on with Gail by clicking on the ‘locations’ tab at the top of our website and then following the links to each project.

Claire Pope went on to form the highly successful You can read about them on the new Culture and Wellbeing website

Josie Aston is the Wellcome Trust Fellow on the Clore Leadership Programme and a freelance arts coordinator. We created heritage displays with Josie in Beckenham (2007) and Orpington (2009).


7 July 2010

We were contacted last month by Chas Hickling, Capital Projects Engineer, who we have worked with on the other heritage projects created for King’s Mill Hospital in 2008 and 2009. It’s always a pleasure to work with Chas!

He informed us that a very substantial donation had been made to the hospital from the sale of The Gospel Mission Hall, Goodacre Street, Mansfield, to help fund the new Children’s Emergency Care Centre (CECC) at King’s Mill. The donation has allowed the hospital to buy equipment that simply would not have been possible otherwise. As this donation effectively marks the end of the Mansfield Gospel Mission’s long and proud history it was decided to commemorate the Mission with a display in the CECC and to portray the history in detail as a new section on the existing ‘Virtual Museum’ touchscreen, which is sited on the main ‘street’ of the King’s Treatment Centre.

We attended a meeting organised by Chas, along with Theresa Kilduff, Service Development Manager at the CECC, and several former members of the Gospel Mission including grandchildren of John George Brown, a founder member, and one of the original Trustees. They had already written an overview of the Mission’s history and started to source a collection of images. Barbara Gallon a local historian and member of the Old Mansfield Society has also, very kindly, loaned some material relating to the history of the Gospel Mission.

As a group we visited the new CECC and viewed possible locations for the display. At this point it was clear that a detailed historical display would neither fit the space or be appropriate in that location. It was felt that a bright, colourful and fun display, commemorating the Mission’s donation whilst poignantly hinting at their work with the children of Mansfield would work really well as a display. But it was also agreed that the Mission’s history should be told in more detail and that the existing touchscreen would be the best solution. The touchscreen already portrays King’s Mill Hospital’s history with video, audio, slideshows and detailed text. So the existing equipment and design structure could be relatively easily added to with the history of Mansfield Gospel Mission.

The Gospel Mission was first built in 1913 and sadly due to increasing vandalism had to finally close its doors in September 2005. It was always known that if the building ceased to be used to preach the Gospel it was to be sold and the proceeds used for the benefit of local children. The mural and additional section on the touchscreens will be a lasting reminder of all the good work that The Gospel Mission has done for the population of the area – especially the children. This project is planned for completion in September 2010.


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”.


2 June 2010

In June 2009 we were contacted by Matron Jill Anderson at the John Coupland Hospital in Gainsborough requesting details on the heritage displays we create specifically for hospitals.

Having provided Jill with case studies and planning guidelines we heard nothing more till January this year. In the meantime Jill had set up a history group made up of past and present staff and other interested parties. They researched the history and with the help of the Gainsborough District and Heritage Association and the local library and newspapers, obtained news cuttings and photos covering the opening and development of the hospital.

We were then invited to review the information, and following this put a detailed proposal together. It was decided to create two distinctly different heritage displays. The first, which will be officially opened on the 10th July this year, will portray the history from the planning and official opening of the hospital in the early 1900’s to the birth of the NHS in 1948. The second display will follow when the hospital’s new wing opens, and will bring the story right up to date.

The first heritage mural will be a little over 20ft wide and almost 6ft high at its apex. The mural will feature a solid oak frame to replicate the beautiful aged oak panelling of the original hospital. The impressive Georgian exterior will feature at the centre of the display on a separate section that will appear to float in front of the sections to left and right. This effect will be emphasised by using contrasting reflective and non-reflective finishes. Selected images, within the non-reflective left and right sections, will also be over-mounted with a reflective finish to stand proud, adding to the three dimensional effect.

The mural’s overall design has been approved and we are now in the process of writing the final text and preparing high resolution artwork.

It looks great and we are all really excited!


25 May 2010

We created the Friarage Hospital History Mural back in 2005. John Williams contacted us in the spring of 2010 asking where he could obtain a scaled down copy of the mural. This is his response having received the print.

“We have your image of The Mural now, nicely produced by Barry’s printer, spread out along our (fortunately) long dining room table.  It has given Margaret even more pleasure, and fascination to other family members who have viewed it.  I guess not many people have the chance to see one of the most important parts of their career recorded in this public and substantial manner.  She is able to pore over ‘her section’, and recognise former colleagues, (and remember & comment on former consultants!)  It is made even more personal for her in that she has found that she herself ‘appears’ on it not once but three times!

And our view of the mural as being a very good thing in itself, and very well done, is confirmed & reinforced.  As an unbiased observer, one of the things that has struck me is how you have given the whole a kind of feel-good element:  when one looks at it or sees it in one’s mind’s eye, it engenders this good and positive vibration.  Very skilful;  and just the thing one needs in a hospital – far more effective in my view than the abstract work I saw reported recently on the telly, designed for the entrance to a children’s ward, (though that may just be my philistine tendencies).

So this e-mail is to say thank you very much again, for your generosity, for bothering with us & taking trouble, for giving Margaret such pleasure and deep satisfaction, and for the quality and skill you have brought to the project.

With very best wishes for the future,”

Yours sincerely,

John & Margaret Williams