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!