Hospital Rooms: Changing Lives with Art

Our latest project with charity partner Hospital Rooms to help transform mental health units with art.


We’re proud to be supporting a new project which launches this month with our charity partner, Hospital Rooms.

Hospital Rooms is an arts and mental health charity co-founded by Cornish curator Niamh White and artist Tim A Shaw. They commission world class artists to work with mental health patients and staff to radically transform locked mental health units with museum quality artwork.

Their aim is to complete projects in all areas of the country in the next few years and to change perceptions of what is possible within mental health units. Niamh and Tim are truly making a difference and changing the world with art.

Seasalt Hospital Rooms partnership

Tim and Niamh from Hospital Rooms, Deap from Seasalt, and Cornish artists Nina and Lucy

For this latest project, Hospital Rooms has joined forces with Devon Partnership Trust to create a series of 12 art installations for 2 new-build units – a ten bed Mother and Baby Unit and an eight bed Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) in Exeter.

Hospital Rooms founder Tim says:

“The Mother and Baby Unit is the first of its kind in the South West and will keep mothers with serious mental health episodes with their babies as they recover. Mums and babies can spend up to several months in the unit, so stimulation is essential at this important stage of the babies’ development.

The Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit will provide intensive care services for many people who are experiencing mental health difficulties, which present a risk to their wellbeing or that of others. Again, it will keep people with serious mental health crises closer to home, family and community.

We have commissioned internationally renowned artists to work with patients and staff to create site-specific artworks for these units through a series of community meetings and arts workshops. By the end of the project, we hope that we will have created a series of awe-inspiring spaces for very vulnerable and isolated people from the South West to recover in.”

Seasalt is sponsoring Cornish artists, Nina Royle, Lucy Stein and Turner prize winner Grenville Davey, to be commissioned as part of this project.

Last week, we went to Exeter for a tour of the brand new PICU and Mother and Baby Unit, along with the artists and nursing staff.

It was a brilliant day where the staff openly shared their personal experiences of working in locked units of this kind and the artists were able to gather detail on some of the key constraints of materials, display and content in order to make the work compliant with the clinical environments they will be displayed in.

Back in their studios, the artists will now start to plan not only the final installations but also a series of workshops for patients and staff that will take place over the coming weeks.

Lucy Stein 

Lucy is based in St Just and has a space at Trewarveneth Studios in Newlyn. She studied at Glasgow School of Art and de Ateliers, Amsterdam, before completing a residency at Porthmeor Studio 5 as part of the Tate St Ives Artist Programme in 2015. Lucy will be creating work for the PICU in Exeter.

Book of Shadows 2018 by Lucy Stein

Book of Shadows, oil and charcoal on canvas with snails, 2018 by Lucy Stein

“I was pleased to be approached by Hospital rooms for this project as it felt like an endorsement of the presence of difference in relation to mental health in my work. My paintings and performance events try to incite a profound and visceral emotional response in the viewer. The potato print works I made in 2014 used ideas around catharsis and art as therapy.

I come from a family of mental health professionals all of whom probably went into the field because other members of the family suffered from severe mental health problems and suicide has been a spectre for all of us. As an artist I feel especially equipped to explore the edges of perception and reality.” Lucy Stein

Nina Royle 

Nina grew up in Cornwall and completed her foundation year at Falmouth before gaining her fine art degree and MA at Slade School of Art, London. She now lives in St Just, working from a studio at CAST, Helston. Nina will be creating work for the Mother and Baby Unit.

“I feel incredibly privileged to participate in the Hospital Rooms project at the new Mothers and Baby Unit opening in Exeter. I am not a mother but would very much like to be one, so having the chance to develop my practice in a way that grows from asking questions and responding to conversations with women who have gone through this experience, is immensely rewarding.

Until my invitation to participate, I had no idea about what provisions there are in the South West – or even the United Kingdom for that matter – to support woman with mental health problems that occur during pregnancy or after childbirth. I think this lack of awareness is not unique to me but is shared by many in our society.

I think also that the reasons for it connect to a history where mental health related issues have been routinely swept under the carpet rather than talked about openly. To my mind this makes projects like Hospital Rooms and the dialogues it creates all the more vital and important.” Nina Royle 

Grenville Davey

Grenville is a Cornish sculptor and winner of the 1992 Turner Prize. He was born in Launceston, Cornwall and studied at Exeter College of art and Design and at Goldsmiths, University of London. Grenville will be creating work for the PICU.

“Understanding the enormous positive benefits for all in experiencing and making art in a context such as this has thrown up some fresh thinking for me and hopefully for all those involved in this project. I am very much looking forward to this and working with service users and staff to develop ideas for the building.” Grenville Davey

We’ll be catching up with the artists in their studios in the coming weeks to see their work in progress, so keep a look out on our blog for another update soon.

Find out more about our charity partnerships >

How we raise money for Hospital Rooms

For every pair of Seasalt socks sold, 20p is donated and the money that we raise from sales of our socks goes to a variety of charities throughout the year. The 20p donation applies to both full price and sale styles, but excludes our multipacks of socks, House Socks, Fair Isle Socks, Welly Socks and Tights.

SHOP SEASALT SOCKS