New hospital brings art, community and history to life

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image copyright: Daniel Locke

When the Stage 1 building of our 3Ts Redevelopment at the Royal Sussex County Hospital opens in the spring of 2023, it won’t just offer a new home for many of our wards and services.

It will also be a showcase of local artists’ work, revitalising both big and quiet spaces with pieces that represent our heritage, people, and the individuality of the very city the hospital inhabits – Brighton.

Connecting people and art

The artwork will feature in waiting rooms, treatment rooms, gardens and corridors. In fact, visitors can use feature wall illustrations of Sussex landscapes to find their way around the hospital, as well as the standard signage system.

The aim of the art programme, Connect, is to make a welcoming and enriching environment for patients, and create a legacy of high-quality public art for the community.

Feature artist: Daniel Locke

Artist and graphic novelist Daniel Locke, was commissioned in 2019 to bring to life the hospital’s incredible history, from its origins as a sea-bathing hospital to its life-saving research work today – led by local art collective, Nimbus.

Entitled ‘Crucible’, the 17m design made using a combination of drawings on paper and digital colour, shows evolutions in society, healthcare, and people’s understanding of “health” and ethics from as early back as 1828.

Crucible will be hung on the ground floor of the new building later this year. It is accompanied by a flatscreen kiosk in a nearby waiting area and an online archive, allowing visitors to find out more about the stories Daniel tells either on-site or at home.

image copyright: Daniel Locke

The development of the artwork and online archive took a year to complete and drew on research from a Heritage Lottery Funded project, looking at the history of the hospital from the 19th– 21st Century. Daniel also had past and present colleagues, patients, and residents share their memories through comic book workshops, and tea and cake meet-ups with support from oral historian, Margot Thomas.

Daniel explains more about this process: “During the workshops, I taught the participants how to script and draw a short comic strip about their experiences. They kindly donated their finished artworks to use as inspiration for the artwork.

“Alongside the workshops, I kept a sketchbook that recorded my own feelings and drawings about the people I was meeting and the hospital. During this time, I also found myself a patient, very briefly, and so witnessed first-hand how caring and reassuring the medical staff of the hospital are.

“I already loved our city, having been born at the hospital and lived here for most of my life, but this project has deepened my love for it.”  

You can learn more about Crucible on its dedicated website, or discover our other hospital artists via the Connect Website. In the meantime,look out for more on our feature artists each month.