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J R Soc Med. 2004 April; 97(4): 206.
PMCID: PMC1079371

Art about hospitals

Reviewing a new book entitled The Healing Environment, Professor Michael Baum writes of the life-enhancing effects of art in hospitals (March 2004 JRSM)1. I agree; and I suggest that, in addition, works of art can serve to explain and celebrate the daily life and events in hospitals. There is no modern tradition of such art, though the work of LS Lowry (Ancoats Hospital Outpatient Department) and Barbara Hepworth (drawings of the operating theatre) offer glorious exceptions.

I decided to commission a painting on canvas to document the procedure of bronchoscopy, and succeeded in gaining sponsorship from a pharmaceutical company (Boehringer Ingelheim). I chose a young artist, Steven Rendall, who had just finished a postgraduate art degree at the Royal Academy Schools, London, and who I knew to have an inquisitive eye. He attended several bronchoscopy sessions with his camera and then contacted me with a rough layout. The finished canvas installed in the endoscopy unit, just over a year from the start of the project, takes the form of a ‘photoboard’ image of the bronchoscopy process (Figure 1). I am certain that this is the only painting of a bronchoscopy in existence, and I encourage others to record their working lives in similar fashion.

Figure 1
Steven Rendall's painting of a bronchoscopy


1. Baum M. The Healing Environment: Without and Within [Book of the Month]. J R Soc Med 2004;97: 143-4

Articles from Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine are provided here courtesy of Royal Society of Medicine Press