Students from the University of Westminster’s School of Media Arts and Design teamed up with Central and North West London (CNWL) Arts in Health and the Mental Health Centre at Northwick Park Hospital to deliver craft workshops to service users that inspired the redesign of a neglected garden space.
The project brought together students with service users to create artworks which would improve the clinical environment. The focus was on engaging with nature and the outdoors as the garden, mainly used as a smoking area, needed repurposing following the implementation of a no-smoking policy.
Sarah Dawoud from the Photography BA Honours course, Yuxin Jiang from MA Photographic Studies (now Photography Arts MA), Ben Lunt from Fine Art Mixed Media BA Honours and Fe Campbell from Illustration & Visual Communication BA Honours worked with experienced mental health arts workers and staff at the Northwick Park unit to develop creative workshops that would engage the service users who have a broad spectrum of mental health backgrounds. By engaging service users in the workshops, they were able to bring their own knowledge, experience and needs to the project.
The project resulted in a newly designed herb garden, planted collectively by the service users and students. The exterior walls of the centre were decorated with colourful perspex shapes facing into the garden, a 'thought tree', constructed from bright perspex where patients can write and hang their thoughts and feelings, and bright lanterns now hang beneath the eaves of two buildings.
Sarah Dawoud, one of the student participants, said: “Working in collaboration with the Arts in Health CNWL team at Northwick Park Hospital has taught me that you can gain fulfilment from your job and that a day’s work can actually give you energy rather than deplete your resources. I am thankful for the experience as it has definitely left a positive imprint on my life.”
Each student received £500 for the commission and had a budget of £5000 for the production of the work. The project was funded jointly by CNWL and University of Westminster.