Wednesday, 9 May 2012


My name is Melissa and I am a post graduate student at the University of Edinburgh with my academic interests focusing on art, design, history and culture. I became involved with Art in Healthcare as I’m passionate about getting art out of the gallery and into the community. This is the first blog post for an exciting new project entitled ‘Artist’s Uncovered,’ where Abi Allsopp (AiH's new Media Manager) and I will highlight an artist and their work belonging to the Art in Healthcare collection. The project aims to increase awareness of the various and exciting artworks on display in health and care settings through a bi-monthly blog paired with a video showcasing the chosen artist for that month. Furthermore it enables me to explore why artists are attracted to the charity and how they feel about exhibiting their creations outside a more traditional gallery setting.  

Off the Cuff
Heather Pugh’s sculptural artworks are fantastic additions to the charity’s art collection and are already earmarked to be put on display in Edinburgh’s new Royal Victoria hospital with generous financial support from the Hope Scott Trust. Her paintings are bright, colourful and quirky, illuminating warmth and cheerfulness. Each of her creations is completely original and could not be replicated as she utilises objects discarded in bins or found on the city streets. She then arranges these found objects, adding or cutting away at them before applying paint and sometimes other media to create multi-layered and intriguing artwork. Her inspiration stems from the things she finds, taking something ordinary with a defined purpose to establish something new and completely unique.
‘To be blunt my work is almost like glorified recycling’
Ten of her works have been purchased for the AiH collection to be displayed at the hospital and my favourite is ‘Off the Cuff.’ The colours make up an attractive palette: contrasting and bold yet still working together and with the multiple components making the piece visually stimulating. Firstly, there are everyday mundane objects such as a hinge and a door handle, which are painted over in geometric pattern and stripes transforming the lowly door handle into a decorative adornment. Pugh is interested in hinges because of their use and function; they are designed to open and close doors and compartments but by placing them in an alien environment their function changes completely.
Another exciting piece is ‘Sign of the Times,’ which drew my attention by incorporating a key initiating me to ponder where the item originally came from and did the owner miss it. Is whatever the key used to unlock unable to open now? The idea for the painting was inspired by Pugh playing with a piece of wood on her jigsaw, which then developed and expanded after a friend gave her some unwanted objects, including the keys.
‘A key is something every day and by changing its function it tied in with my theme of recreating the mundane.’

Sign of the Times

‘Every Nook and Cranny II’ was also motivated by Pugh’s jigsaw and relates to a piece she made the year before that shares a similar colour palette. The aspect that really interests me in this painting is how she cuts away at the artworks surface, revealing new layers and sometimes completely exposing the wall behind. The manipulation has been made through the addition of enamel and acrylic paints and removing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle and wood.
These artworks are exceptionally enjoyable to look at and emit a positive energy that patients, staff and visitors will greatly appreciate. Most people who need to spend time in a hospital would likely rather be anywhere else and as these environments can be quite dreary, clinical and even a little scary, colourful and uplifting artworks like Pugh’s can make such a difference. Hospitals hold many negative connotations, yet the aim of a charity like Art in Healthcare is to make places like these more pleasant and welcoming. Furthermore, Pugh hopes that her artworks will have a significant therapeutic and affirmative effect on patients’ wellbeing and happiness, as she describes below:
‘Art in Healthcare is a great way to add colour and atmosphere into hospitals, providing a type of therapy for people going through often and anxious circumstances, Things visual are often memorable in our minds eye, and I think it’s great to have art work in hospitals, which are often associated with negative times. If my work can portray any positive emotion in people, and make people smile for a moment, it’s a job well done.’

Every Nook and Cranny II

Feel free to leave a comment and tell us what you think of Heather’s work or what we're doing here at Art in Healthcare. Cheers!

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