Hospital Rooms’ Exeter Artworks Revealed

Two new mental health units in Exeter benefit from an inspiring Hospital Rooms project, partnering with Seasalt and Cornish artists, Nina Royle, Lucy Stein and Grenville Davey

As part of the Seasalt Giving, we’ve been thrilled to partner with Hospital Rooms, an inspirational charity that brings world-class art to people in locked mental health units.

We’re proud to have supported the charity’s latest project, working with Devon Partnership NHS Trust at Exeter Hospital, to create a series of art installations for two new units. Seasalt sponsored Cornish artists, Nina Royle, Lucy Stein and Turner Prize winner, Grenville Davey, to be commissioned for the project.

The incredible artwork in the units can only be enjoyed by staff and service users, so to celebrate the project, there will be an exhibition at Phoenix Gallery, featuring work from the artists involved. See it from Friday 3 May – Thursday 30 June.

Hear more about this amazing project from some of the people involved…

Deap Khambay, Head of Sustainability at Seasalt

How did Seasalt begin supporting Hospital Rooms?

When I joined Seasalt, I was asked to find likeminded charities that were using art to have a positive impact in our communities. I found Hospital Rooms. They are so unique in the way they use art to support some of the most vulnerable people in society and with our strong links within the Cornish art community it was a natural fit.

Niamh White & Tim A Shaw, Co-founders of Hospital Rooms

How did Hospital Rooms begin?

Tim: We started Hospital Rooms after visiting a close friend who was sectioned. We got some of the best artists we knew to make art for a unit for people with schizophrenia.

How did the partnership with Seasalt start?

Niamh: In December 2017, we received a call from Deap. We were thrilled to hear from her, we’ve had the most magical partnership. We’re so grateful for the support.

Why is the Exeter project so important to you?

Niamh: Our background has been in London. We’re excited to be able to work in more regions of the UK. It means that people from different areas can benefit from the work. The artists have gone above and beyond to create an atmosphere that’s welcoming but also opens conversations. People have communicated that they’ve felt a sense of self-worth because of the project.

Commissioned artists, Lucy Stein, Grenville Davey & Nina Royle

What attracted you to the project?

Grenville: I realised the long history of Hospital Rooms. They work in challenging situations, but the benefits are enormous.

Lucy: I come from a family of mental health professionals and as an artist I feel especially equipped to explore the edges of perception and reality.

You ran workshops with service users. How did these inspire you?

Grenville: There was a guy in my workshop, who drew an aircraft. I have a print of a Spitfire in my hallway, which I bought at a boot sale. I had drawn this aircraft many times in a tailspin when I had been suffering from depression, it was a way of externalising aspects of the situation. The trigger for the idea was produced on that first visit.

How did you decide which space to work in?

Nina: When we had our walk around the ward, I quickly formed an interest in the nursery room. It feels like a peaceful, meditative space and I liked the interior windows.

Lucy: When I looked around I wanted to work in the corridor space. A nurse told me how important the corridors are to the patients and visitors. I loved the way the space was designed by the architect, the way the windows were positioned and the how the light came through.

Grenville: I loved the family room. It’s an intense but quiet space, where relationships are formed and maintained.

Grenville Davey, Tail Spin Recovery, Family Room at The Junipers. Photo by Damian Griffiths courtesy of Hospital Rooms

Describe your final installation.

Grenville: My final piece is made up of approximately 30 repeats of the same image. They’ll fall in a random pattern down the wall, in a tailspin. The plane eventually lifts, so the prints swoop to the left across two walls.

Nina: I’ve done a mural that extends with clusters of imagery. I wanted the work to extend across three walls but to also maintain white space, so it’s not claustrophobic.

Cat Lee, Hospital Rooms Workshop Participant & Service User

How did you benefit from this project?

It is important that people with mental health difficulties have outlets to be creative and can make their environment nice. Sometimes, having a mental illness can be isolating. However, this project felt inclusive and welcoming.

I did workshops with Tim A Shaw, Nina Royle and Mark Titcher, where I met other people who had had similar experiences to mine. I was also able to reconnect with some of the staff who looked after me when I was in hospital. The whole process has been lovely.


How we raise money for Hospital Rooms

For every pair of single socks we sell, 20p is donated to charity.  The money we raise goes to a variety of causes and projects 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 & tights.

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