A sculpture which once graced a hospital courtyard is being restored to its former glory by students at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).
The work called Scales and Horizons was the first commission made by artist Peter Randall-Page RA. It originally stood outside in a garden at Leicester Royal Infirmary after being unveiled in 1982.
However, as the hospital has expanded, the space was taken over to house a huge lift and the sculpture was taken down and housed in boxes, where it has remained ever since.
A group of second year Fine Art students have begun work on the project under the tutelage of lecturer Dale Robertson, whose research specialism is public art.
They will soon start work digitally scanning the artwork before creating visualisations of where it could be repositioned within the hospital so it can once again be enjoyed by patients and staff.
Jon Currington, Head of Tertiary Partnerships at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, said: “We probably have one of the largest art collections on display in Leicestershire and what we want to do is examine how we use art, how we preserve it and how we can use it as therapy to help our patients."
The Fine Art project comes as DMU gives its support to a new drive at University Hospitals of Leicester to celebrate its public art collection.
Leicester’s Hospitals has created a new arts and heritage role to work with universities across the region, including DMU. The role will see the development of initiatives such as arts on prescription programmes and art clubs for people who have had a stroke.
DMU students on a range of courses including Fine Art, Graphic Design, Interior Design and Photography and Video will also have the opportunity to complete placements and internships on the hospital’s arts and artefacts programme.
Hospital bosses are also keen to ensure that its artwork is recognised and incorporated into its current and future buildings, celebrating donations and ensuring all its work is properly curated.
Dale Robertson, Fine Art lecturer, said local authorities in Leicester were pioneers in the field of public art. From the late 1940s, Leicestershire Education Authority bought contemporary art for its schools and new buildings, to inspire creativity.
He said: “Leicester health authority and the Leicester Hospitals were one of the first to recognise the importance of art and their public art collection is so extensive. It is very exciting for us to be a part of this project and in terms of employability, it gives our students real experience in dealing with and curating public art.”
The students’ first task will be to scan the artwork digitally before coming up with visualisations of where the piece could be moved to within the .
“Work such as this, from an artist like Peter Randall-Page, needs to be looked after and we need to think about how it could be used in the hospital setting.”
The original piece was carved by sculptor Mr Randall-Page on site. Hospital bosses let him use one of the ambulance parking garages to create his work, which was his first commission.
Jane Kamau, a second year Fine Art student, said: “The first thing we noticed was how much the sculpture has been affected by weathering. It think it will be quite an interesting restoration and I would like to see what Peter Randall-Page thinks of our work.”
“I think art just brings colour and life, and lifts you up a bit, so I can see why hospitals would want to
have lots of art work,” added Jay Clarke. “Our next step is to get a 3D scan so we can ‘place’ the sculpture in different parts of the hospital. We want to keep it true to the artist.”
Fellow student Oliver Collins added: “I hope he would be open to exploration as well. I feel like he might be interested in seeing how his piece can be changed by other people at the end of the day."
Posted on Friday 29th December 2017