Whiteparish Ward

ArtCare created large panel artworks for the newly refurbished Whiteparish Ward. As well as advising on colours and materials, each bay was given its own distinctive theme: orchard, cornfield, watermeadow and forest. Digital images were scaled up into 7.5 metre long panels for each ward bay and printed onto Acrovyn panels. This product is impact resistant, hygienic and low maintenance – suitable for the busiest wards and healthcare areas. As well a wall panels, colour has been added with the use of ceiling tiles and printed window film provides privacy to bedroom areas.

The artworks look amazing, not only for patients staying on the ward, but a wonderful environment for staff to work too.” (Whiteparish Ward clinical staff member)

A former Whiteparish Ward patient spoke about her experience being on the ward before refurbishment and how it is now the artworks have been installed:

“I have spent time in on several occasions over the years on Whiteparish Ward. I remember thinking how nice it would be to look at some colourful wall decorations to break the monotony of gazing at light grey or magnolia walls and saying to myself ‘why can’t the walls have interesting illustrations and colours like those in maternity and the children’s wards?’ Well, the soothing colours and floral scenes now in Whiteparish will make the ward environment much more interesting for patients and the staff working in the ward. For me, to look at a varied tranquil scene full of colour is comforting, soothing and reassuring as opposed to a blank wall which is not distracting when distraction may well be beneficial; mental wellbeing being very important when physical issues are dominant. I hope other wards and departments can all benefit in the future from ArtCare’s ward décor initiatives.”

Artworks and furniture for the newly refurbished ward have been provided with grateful thanks to funding from Stars Appeal.

Stars Appeal logo

Village Tales

“Now it wasn’t in my time, and it wasn’t in your time. This was in a time when birds built their nests in old men’s beards.”

Nearly 20 years ago, storyteller and musician Tim Laycock spent a couple of months collecting stories, anecdotes and songs about local villages, especially Dorset and Wiltshire, from patients on the wards. The ‘Village Tales’ project captured little tales that tell how people used to live, still do live and give a sense of shared history. We have revisited these tales and presented them to you on our website. Visit our dedicated Village Tales project page to read and listen to the tales.

Obstetric Theatre ceiling

Molly pictured with mobile and ceiling tiles installedPrinted ceiling tiles with an eye-catching design created by ArtCare volunteer Molly, are providing a welcome focal point for patients in the Obstetric Theatre and the Gynaecology department. The artworks include different types of birds hidden amongst the blossom, providing a visual distraction for women having caesarean sections or other treatment. The challenge to patients is to see if they can find and name all the various birds. The addition of a mobile hanging below the ceiling tiles in Gynaecology, also helps to instil a feeling of calm, with its gently spinning action. Following the installation, Obstetric Theatre Sister commented , “All of the patients I have had in theatre this week have enjoyed and admired it.”

SDH Nature Guide

New for 2020 is the full colour ‘SDH Nature Guide’, written by Genetics staff member James Macpherson, designed and published by ArtCare and sponsored by Salisbury Hospital League of Friends. It is an inspiring guide to the wildlife of Salisbury District Hospital and the surrounding area. The booklet provides a month by month look at the wide variety of flowers, plants and animals around the site, together with a detailed description and background information about each. As well as informing staff, patients and visitors about the wonderful array of flora and fauna to explore on their doorstep, the booklet also aims to engage support for preservation of the site’s biodiversity.

Author James Macpherson said, “This is a rare and special habitat with which southern England is particularly blessed… and which during my frequent walks around the SDH site I have been able to enjoy on a daily basis.”

ArtCare will be using the books in their memory box activities as conversation starters with patients on wards. It will be a useful wellbeing tool for staff and visitors as there is strong evidence that accessing nature improves mental health and reduces stress.

Why not try some of our linked activities?

Other ideas

  • Look up the latin names for each of the butterflies on the colouring sheet, what is their purpose and why are these useful?
  • Research and draw the butterfly life cycle
  • Create a calendar bar graph that shows when certain flowers or butterflies can be seen in the year

Copies of the SDH Nature Guide are available to purchase from ArtCare please email sft.artcare@nhs.net for detail. The book will also be available also from the League of Friends shop in the main entrance, when it re-opens. Why not take a break from work and explore the area yourself? Or visit our Wellbeing page for more creative activities that you can do at the hospital or at home.

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Roaming D-Day archives

In May and June 2019, regular Elevate artists Stephanie and David took our historic archives onto the wards of Salisbury District Hospital. Items in the boxes comprised of photographs, plans, objects and documents. During the sessions, patients, staff and visitors explored the origins of the hospital (as a US Field Hospital built in 1942) and discussed stories, lived memories and experiences that were stimulated by their access to these historic items.

The artists described the effects of the sessions: “The conversations contained common themes; memories of wartime experiences, personal stories and reminiscence, stories about the hospital site and working there. The project revealed a deeply held connection between people and their hospital through generations of local families.”

“This project confirmed for me that archive material is a wonderful resource that needs to be shared rather than gather dust. Tangible objects, images and words enable patients to access emotion and memories they have forgotten they had.”

“The D-Day material provided an immediate way in for those who engaged with it, unlocking both local knowledge and experience with wider historical context. When we share such material we make the ordinary and seemingly unimportant have a moment to shine with significance. This makes people feel valued and appreciated.”

The artists were shadowed by Tamsin who was learning about our archives and how our artists worked with patients on busy hospital wards. She described their work and the benefit felt by those who participated. “They are incredibly skilled at engaging people when and where they are most vulnerable – ill in a hospital bed. I heard powerfully moving conversations stimulated by the archive material that had a beneficial effect beyond being a history lesson. I witnessed rather depressed and disengaged people open up like flower to become animated and energised through these conversations.”

These memories were written onto specially commissioned postcards that commemorated the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. From the 7 days of sessions over 60 postcards were collected along with 26 further extended tales. ArtCare also took part in the 2019 National Armed Forces Day celebrations in Salisbury and we took our archive boxes and displayed them alongside the collected stories.

Find out more about our historical archive on our dedicated Salisbury Healthcare History website.


Headway Salisbury and South Wiltshire’s weekly Headsmart group, attended by adults who have sustained brain injuries, received a grant from Salisbury City Council to offer a Creative Arts Project over the course of two years. The project run in partnership with ArtCare’s Elevate programme started in September 2019. The creative sessions aim to increase participant’s self-esteem, allowing them the space and time to share their stories. Members of the group have the chance to listen and learn more about each other’s lives and experiences, gaining new skills and ways of working. Creative activities taking place with Elevate artists include music, singing, circle dance and a 4-week special project making personal journal boxes.

Headway charity logo

Talking Journeys

Talking Journeys is a pilot project in partnership with The National Poetry Library and the Salisbury Spinal Rehabilitation Centre at Salisbury District Hospital. The aim of the project is to improve the experience of a hospital stay and create meaningful activity and deliver personalised, inspiring outcomes. The initial idea for these sessions has grown from several sources, but the main ‘spark’ came from observations of the Elevate sessions with David Davies.

People are admitted to the Spinal Centre at Salisbury District Hospital to undertake rehabilitation following a Spinal Cord Injury. The initial stage of their hospital stay often requires complete bed rest and may include being restricted to a single side room. It is common for people to experience isolation, low mood and boredom as well as a range of pain and limitations caused by the unique circumstance of their injury. People are admitted from a wide geographical region, stretching from the Scilly Isles and Cornwall in the west, to Gloucester in the north and Wiltshire and Hampshire, including the Isle of Wight in the east and south of the catchment area. This can often increase the isolation and disconnect from family and friends and can be compounded by the current lack of voice activated technology that could enable them to call home independently.

David Davies is working with several participants from the Spinal Centre using poetry and images as starting points and allowing participants the personal space to discover and grow. The ‘journey’ may involve further creative processes, e.g. sketching or journalling. The project also aims to increase awareness of the National Poetry Library and its resources. Visit the National Poetry Library website to find out what they have to offer.

As the project progresses we hope that participants’ may share a little of their ‘journeys’ online on our website. To be able to do this we need material that can be shared publicly. Following a request for images to artists on our mailing list, some have kindly agreed that we may use their images as part of this project. If you would like to contribute in this way please look at our opportunities page for further details.

National Poetry Library logo

Mary Lou Revue

The Mary Lou Revue Vintage Cabaret have been offering musical refreshments to patients, staff and visitors at Salisbury District Hospital. Featuring a delicious selection of classic songs and magical dance moments, from the 1920s onwards, their delightful show was taken directly to patients’ bedsides, as well as the day room on Spire Ward and to Westminster Memorial Hospital, Shaftesbury. Everyone watching had the chance to choose from a variety of songs and join in with singing and moving with the use of various colourful props. Even our older patients couldn’t resist getting up to dance around the bay with staff members. Mary Lou Revue are supported by Arts Council England and Creating with Care.

Arts Council England logo Creating with Care logo

Find out more about Mary Lou revue on their website

Tor Theatre

In May 2018, Tor Theatre’s tall tale of silly smugglers and unrequited love thrilled audiences around the hospital, including patients and visitors on Sarum, Spire and Chilmark Wards. The mini-shows, linked to their main touring programme, were a collaboration with Salisbury Playhouse (now Wiltshire Creative), and were funded by the Salisbury Independent Hospital Trust. The lively show entitled ‘The Rum Tale of the Moonfleet Diamond’ contained storytelling, songs, dancing and jokes about how smugglers used to hide their contraband.

Visit Tor Theatre’s website to find out more about their work

Breamore Ward Day Room

Funded by the Stars Appeal, ArtCare helped staff on Breamore Ward to make their day room more welcoming and friendly and to improve wayfinding throughout the ward. The artworks, one in the day room and one in the main ward, serve as focal points to soothe and distract patients. The calming images are made up of a montage of local landscapes, including landmarks from Breamore village itself, which the ward takes its name from. These include the bridge over the river, the church and a mizmaze. The images also help to counter the lack of windows to exterior views on the ward. New furniture includes a dining table and chairs allowing patients to eat their lunch away from their bedside if they wish, as well as tub chairs and a coffee table for informal relaxation with visitors. A storage unit means there is less clutter and it’s easier to clean, but books and games are still accessible to patients and visitors when needed. Printed window film creates privacy for the users of the space, allowing light to filter through, but preventing people looking in when walking past outside. Finally, improved signage through out the ward has helped with patient orientation.

Downton Ward

With funding from the League of Friends, ArtCare helped Downton Ward to implement their vision of how they wanted their ward to look. Staff on the ward wanted to create an up to date, fresh and welcoming ward atmosphere for patients and staff. The ward was looking tired and had not had any refurbishment for 20 years. ArtCare together with the staff identified the areas that needed improvement, which included a focus for patients in side rooms and better signage.

The ward staff’s vision was to have pictures of the village of Downton and its surrounding countryside. ArtCare’s Lesley Self went out with her camera one evening and captured over 600 images for the team to look through and decide which should be displayed on the ward. They found it very difficult to narrow down their final selection.

Sister Paula Dawson said, “Even though this project was small, the creation of welcoming surroundings has had a very positive impact on ward morale. We have improved all three of our side rooms by adding ceiling tiles, which will be visible for those in bed, and artwork detailing the local landscape that will provide a virtual view to the outside world. The window film will be an interesting distraction for patients, overcoming boredom and stress and also helping with privacy. The new signage that was also installed enables patients and visitors to clearly identify the different areas. We are most grateful to the League of Friends and ArtCare for the support we have received in being able to make this happen. We have had so many positive comments from patients, families and other staff visiting the ward about the artwork and improvements we have made.”

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