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Renal - website

Participation Arts

We work with freelance Creatives on various projects, aiming to improve the wellbeing of our patients, visitors and staff through creative activity.


Occasionally people write blogs documenting their experience of taking part in arts activities in our hospitals.  To find out more, click here.


Creative engagement in the Stroke Rehab Wards

Thanks to funding from York Teaching Hospital Charity we were able to trial a creative arts programme for Stroke Rehab patients in York and Scarborough hospitals.  Between September 2019 – February 2020 we worked with freelance musicians, artists and dancers to increase activity and patient engagement on the wards.

Research carried out in York Hospital by CREATE* at Leeds University suggested that patients would benefit from a coherent activities programme, aiming to increase patient activity and improve the ward environment, along with the possibility of  reducing length of stay and improving patient mood.  Following smaller successful arts projects in the Stroke wards we applied for funding to develop this further.


Brightside Music CIC, York Hospital

Brightside Music take live musical interactions into hospitals across Yorkshire, changing the atmosphere and providing a distraction from the often difficult environment.  Becky Eden-Green and Aisling Holmes make up the Brightside duo; both experienced musicians with a background in education, they have undertaken the Music in Healthcare apprenticeship with OPUS Music CIC, a leading authority on live music-making in healthcare establishments.  Brightside provided interactive music making with Stroke patients on both a group and one-to-one basis.

Brightside on ward - SMALL

Dance by Ellen Turner, York Hospital

Ellen Turner is an energetic dance artist. She trained at The Northern School of Contemporary Dance and is currently the lead artist for InMature Dance Company, a project lead by Yorkshire Dance to help combat loneliness and isolation in people with dementia living in care homes around Yorkshire.  Ellen worked with patients in York Hospital’s Stroke Rehab Ward on a one-to-one basis.


Dance by Julie Marsay, Scarborough Hospital

Julie encourages movement through rhythm, mirrored hand movement, use of percussion instruments and visual imagery.  She worked with patients at their bedside, using rhythmic ribbons and carefully selected music, further enhanced by costume and props.


Art Sessions by Sara Semple and Karen Thompson, Scarborough Hospital

Sara and Karen were assisted by volunteers and staff to provide art sessions for Stroke Rehab patients.  Taking simple activities such as illustration, print and modelling they were able to engage patients in relaxed activities away from the ward environment.


Dance in Scarborough Hospital’s Stroke Rehab Unit

Dance in Health Specialist, Julie Marsay, joins the Arts Team for a second time, working with patients in Scarborough Hospital’s Stroke Rehab Unit.


Dance movement is a therapeutic form of exercise which is great for physical, mental and emotional health. When dance or movement is set to music it can create a stress relieving, joyful and often healing moment for those involved as well as increasing endorphins in the brain.


Supported by the ward’s Therapists, Julie encourages movement through rhythm, mirrored hand movement, use of percussion instruments and visual imagery.  She works with patients at their bedside, using rhythmic ribbons and carefully selected music, further enhanced by costume and props. Julie explains “the smallest movement can be a huge development for a stroke patient with limited mobility.  Dancing at the end of a patient’s bed can be just as successful, with many experiencing physical and imaginative effects of movement without actually moving their bodies.”


The sessions have been well received by relatives too.  Whole families have participated in some sessions, thankful for shared experiences and dialogue within the clinical environment in which their loved ones remain for extended periods of time.  Julie recall’s one particular interaction “from not quite knowing what to say or how to interact with their Gran, 3 young girls suddenly had a way to communicate; and Gran enjoying showing them she can still rock ‘n roll too!” 


Julie will be on Scarborough Hospital’s Stroke Rehab Ward between April – May 2019, following a successful pilot project in 2018.  All sessions have been generously funded by York Teaching Hospital Charity.

York Teaching Hospital Charity logo - Circle - TINY

Art in York Hospital’s Cancer Care Centre

We’ve worked with several freelance artists to provide art workshops in York Hospital’s Cancer Care Centre, click here to find out more.

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Art in the Renal Units

Artist, Van Nong, worked in both York and Easingwold Renal Unit's between 2013 and 2017.  

Renal - Van

Van has over 20 years of community arts experience and was highly valued by patients in our Renal Units. Van believes that the process of creating the artwork is just as rewarding as the final piece, he explains: "Making art accessible through creative workshops has been really beneficial in the Renal Units, allowing people to take part in something meaningful and enjoyable whilst hooked up to the dialysis machine."

Urban Buzz Planters

The Arts Team have joined forces with Urban Buzz and River of Flowers to improve one of York Hospital's garden spaces for users of the Renal Unit.

Renal planters for web

Urban Buzz creates habitat for insect pollinators to increase their diversity and population numbers.  River of Flowers works in partnership to create trails or ‘rivers’ of wildflower forage in cities to feed the pollinators that feed us. In their Grow Your Own Health Project, they are working with patients and staff to plant healing gardens for people and pollinators.

Artist, Van Nong, worked alongside Urban Buzz, River of Flowers and our Estates Team to plan and maintain the garden with input from patients and staff. 

logo strip for website


Handmade Signage Installed

Patients in York Hospital’s Renal Unit have been busy creating new signage for the entrance to the unit.   Artist, Van Nong, worked with dialysis patients to design this hand-painted sign.




Evaluation Film by Students from the University of York

The Arts Team linked with students from the University of York this summer to create a short evaluative film about participation arts in York Hospital’s Renal Unit.  Students wrote blog posts throughout the process.  To read them click here.

Portakabin Keys Artwork

Artist, Anne Hutchison, used hundreds of keys to devise an arts project for participants in the Cancer Care Centre.  The keys have been made into a beautiful tree, now framed and installed within the centre.

We’d like to say a huge thank you to Portakabin for the keys and the £150 donation towards the project.

Crochet in the Cancer Care Centre

Anne Hutchison has been busy teaching crochet to participants in the Cancer Care Centre's weekly art sessions.

Photo credit: Elly Ross

Chinese New Year Cockerel by the Cancer Care Centre

Anne Hutchison's creative sessions took a Chinese theme as she led an exciting project in celebration of Chinese New Year 2017  - the year of the Cockerel.

Participants thoroughly enjoyed working in collage and sculpture to create these vibrant cockerels which will be displayed on York Hospital’s main corridor throughout January 2017.

If you’ve been affected by cancer and would like to get involved in Anne’s art sessions in the Cancer Care Centre, please pop along or contact the Arts Team for further information.



Tactile Artwork in the Renal Unit

Janet Woolley (pictured) is a renal patient who works with artist, Van Nong, to create artwork whilst on dialysis.

Van creates 3D tactile art projects for Janet. She’s blind and therefore much of the enjoyment comes through the process of creating the artwork.  This piece is made from air-dry clay and wire which has been shaped and dipped in acrylic.

Van’s work in the Renal Unit is funded by York Teaching Hospital Charity.  If you’d like to fundraise with them to help this work to continue, please click here to get in touch.

Laura Camplejohn joins Van Nong on the Renal Unit

Laura Camplejohn is a 2nd Year Fine Art student at York St. John University.  As part of her degree Laura is undertaking a placement working with Van Nong on York Hospital’s Renal Unit.

Above:  Laura doing sculpture work as part of her degree.

“I have chosen this placement as it provides me with a fantastic opportunity to experience a new type of creative role. This placement stood out for me because I can make a difference in patients’ lives by occupying and helping them to engage with art. I have been surrounded by art my whole life and would love to create a positive impact on patients in need of physical stimulation by sharing my passion. In helping Van Nong with this, I hope not only to help the patients but also broaden my artistic contribution to the world and gain a larger insight into my potential career path.”


Rosie Carr volunteers in York’s Renal Unit

During her third year at York St John University Rosie Carr volunteered as an art worker, assisting Van Nong in his art sessions with patients in York Hospital’s Renal Unit. Van and Rosie worked together to install a 3D exhibition of animal sculptures on our main corridor, all lovingly made by our amazingly talented Renal patients!

Angela Connor joins the Ward 37 Team on art therapy placement

During her final year at Leeds Metropolitan University, Angela Connor, a mature Art Therapy student, joined Ward 37 to bring art therapy to patients.

Mandy Rosier, Senior Sister on Ward 37 at the time, was delighted to have Angela working with her team: 

“I am really looking forward to having Angela on the ward over the next few months. She has only been here for a couple of weeks and the patients are already engaging so well and seem to be enjoying the experience. It’s lovely that we have the opportunity to have art therapy on Ward 37 and it will be very interesting to see the completed pieces”.

Angela Connor explains her role as an Art Therapist:

“Throughout my day on the ward I greet everyone and take a read on who is receptive to my approach. I then build on the initial interaction using art materials to encourage the clients to express themselves in art while all the time engaging in an Interactive dialogue.”


Painting in the Renal Unit

Prior to Van’s time in our Renal units, artist, Anne Hutchison undertook the role.  Anne conducted several art projects with patients, encouraging them to open their imagination and take their work in a direction of their own choosing. This process often culminated in exhibitions, both in high impact areas and along the corridor leading to the Renal Unit so that patients could proudly view their work on their way to dialysis.


Mosaic Trees

In 2012 artist Lesley Seeger worked on the Renal Unit as the Arts Development Officer.  Lesley worked with patients to create our beautiful mosaic trees, now very popular in the main waiting area of York Hospital. 

Each tree, full of birds, flowers and leaves was cut into small pieces for the patients to work on. The individual pieces of patient mosaic were then brought together in the final design.

The pieces of tile used in the mosaic come from a variety of sources, from tiles donated by staff and patients to old china and crockery found in charity shops.

"Doing the art work you completely forget sometimes that you are on the machine. You get quite engrossed"

"We're not just doing something individual. It's part of a have a little union between you."
Quotes from patients participating in the project


Celebrating Remembrance Day

To celebrate Remembrance Day in 2011 The Arts Team organised a programme of live music and a participatory art session with artist, Lesley Seeger.

Anyone and everyone were invited to take part in the art session where a memorial collage was created in the main entrance. Patients, visitors and staff contributed to the piece, creating a colourful field of poppies with lines from 'Flanders Fields,' by John McCrae embedded in it.

The picture is now in situated in the family room of the Mortuary, brightening up the space and linking in with the theme of remembering lost loved ones.

The live music on the day was provided by a barber shop quartet from York St John University and the extremely talented Kieran White who played piano in the foyer.

Cityscape Print Project on Ward 16

Patients and staff on Ward 16 created printed elements of an imaginary historic city, working in the Enhanced Recovery Suite on Ward 16 with Anne Hutchison.

Contributors were duly honoured by having a street or building named after them on the signposts dotted around the piece. This piece of work represents many hours spent by lots of patients passing through the ward and has provided a little creativity to help aid their recovery process - very much enjoyed and appreciated by most participants.

Collaborative Project with York Quilting Museum

In February 2011, patients in the Renal Unit were involved in a rewarding textile project with the Quilt Museum entitled 'Homes and Gardens'.

This collaborative project was co-led by Sally Sculthorpe, Education Officer at the Quilt Museum and Lesley Seeger, Arts Development Worker for York Hospital Trust.


Buttons and Feathers Project

In February 2009, Artist Lesley Seeger worked with colorectal patients on a twenty-four week collage project. The medium of collage was chose due to the fact that it is relatively easy to contain and usually less messy than painting or mosaic making. The aim of the project was to get patients up and moving after surgery and to improve the quality of their patient care and experience.

Internal hospital signage with arrows to Main Reception, Outpatients and Pharmacy

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