Academic Session 3: Loughborough 2017

43rd Annual Conference & Art Book Fair
Loughborough University
6th to 8th April 2017

Beyond Therapy: Situating art and design in healthcare contexts


Tamar Tembeck, McGill University,
Mary Hunter, McGill University,

In Europe and North America, greater attention is being paid to the built environment in medical spaces. ‘Healthy design’ initiatives are increasingly being integrated into hospital planning, in a vision that is coherent with the WHO’s definition of health, according to which ‘mental and social well-being’ are considered in addition to ‘the absence of disease or infirmity’. Government percentage-for-art schemes and public art funding policies count amongst the initiatives that have allowed for the integration of art in hospital architecture, the commissioning of in situ works, and the establishment of artists’ residences in medical environments.

Existing studies on art and design in healthcare contexts overwhelmingly focus on accumulating evidence of their beneficial impacts on patients’ recovery and general well-being. Since the birth of hospitals in the Middle Ages, however, the integration of art has played a variety of other roles in medical spaces, ranging from providing contemplative touchstones for patients, staff, and visitors, to improving the institution’s overall image in the public eye.

In this session, historians of art, architecture and design, as well as cultural practitioners, programmers and policymakers, will reflect upon, critique and question the forms and functions of contemporary and historical art and design practices in healthcare environments (hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, etc.). We will investigate how and why art and design practices are deployed outside of an explicitly therapeutic context (e.g., in art therapy).

Click here to download a .pdf of this session's paper abstracts

Jackson Davidow (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Freedom as a Skill: Occupational therapy and American modernism

David Theodore (School of Architecture, McGill University) Northwick Park Hospital: Healthcare architecture as art

Lindsay Blair (University of the Highlands and Islands) Opportunities for Dialogue: Health, architecture and the arts

Judy Rollins (Georgetown University School of Medicine) Art with Intent: An international study of purpose-built artwork in hospitals

Jayne Lloyd (Paintings in Hospitals) From the Wallace Collection to the GP’s Waiting Room: Contemporary art in historic houses and primary care sites

(Withdrawn) Cat Powell (Artfelt, Sheffield Children’s Hospital) Adults Designing for Children: Challenging perceptions of art in children’s healthcare environments