Friday 14 June 2024
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Artist takes up a residency at Nottingham Hospitals

A Nottingham-based artist has taken up a six-month Artist in Residence post at the city’s hospitals, working with staff and patients on creative sessions, and documenting hospital life.

Paul Lillie, a portrait and landscape artist and musician, has been named Artist in Residence for Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, a post funded by Nottingham Hospitals Charity as part of its award-winning Arts Programme.

Initially launched as a pilot in September 2021, and aimed mainly at patients with dementia, the programme has proved a huge success in supporting the wellbeing and mental health of all patients, our staff, and visitors.

It’s not the first time Paul has taken his art into hospital. In 2000, he spent time at Chernihiv Rehabilitation Centre in the Ukraine, which cares for children suffering radiation-related health issues due to Chernobyl. He worked with patients to create a mural of a rural landscape, and organised music therapy sessions, and still takes part in charity concerts for British Aid for Deprived Children.

It’s also his second Artist in Residence post; he joined the Friends School in Saffron Walden in Essex just after he graduated in 1991, and it was through the school’s charity work that he ended up in Chernihiv. His time at the school led to teacher training and a full-time career.

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After a few years as a freelance artist, teacher and musician, he joined the police in 2006. There his art and teaching experience proved invaluable for community engagement, and Paul organised and delivered lectures, concerts and charity sports matches with youth groups and vulnerable communities.

Paul was one of 75 artists who applied for the role, and one of eight interviewed by our Patient Experience and Engagement Manager, Staff Wellbeing Team Leader, and Arts Co-ordinator Megan Dawes.

“Paul has a multitude of skills!” said Megan. “He is mainly a visual artist but also has experience as a musician and performer and has worked with people of all ages, in education, the police service and more. He has so many artistic skills to draw upon and engage the diverse range of patients, visitors and staff at NUH.”

On his first day in residence, and using LS Lowry for inspiration, Paul and six patients created a large-scale multimedia image of Nottingham’s architecture.

“I used the view from the ward window,” said Paul. “Patients created buildings so that we could build the image, and then I added some match-stalk figures to the foreground.”

In two other groups, patients and staff created images of Nottingham’s Council House, surrounded by some other Nottingham sights.

Taking part in – or observing – creative activities is proven to contribute towards recovery and feelings of wellbeing and comfort.

Paul said: “Art acts as a good ice-breaker, with staff and patients coming together to discuss what they are trying to create. This can encourage people to get involved.

“Art brings tactile materials in to a clinical environment, creating feelings of reassurance and comfort. And it is the act of doing it rather than the finished product which is important.”

“It’s also just a nice diversion from the hospital routine,” added Paul.

Paul will deliver sessions one day a week for the next six months, with some specifically for staff.

Jenny Good, staff wellbeing lead at NUH, said: “We’re looking forward to working with Paul and seeing how we can enrich our creative wellbeing offer at NUH. We know staff have previously loved spending time on arts projects and have enjoyed the creative process as a time out from busy schedules so we are excited to see what new opportunities we can offer them this year.”

“I’m going to create a visual documentary or diary of my time at NUH, to produce a body of work which will feature in a future exhibition,” said Paul.

“I hope staff and patients get used to seeing me and I become part of the day-to-day background, so I can capture hospital life more authentically.”

Nigel Gregory, Chief Executive at Nottingham Hospital Charity, said: “We are extremely proud to be able to fund Paul’s work at Nottingham’s hospitals. Art is proven to be therapeutic and to improve overall wellbeing, so we know this programme will be hugely beneficial to patients at our hospitals. I’d like to thank everyone who has donated to the Charity to enable Paul’s work to take place. We hope it will benefit many patients, visitors and staff.”

To find out more about Paul and see some of his work, visit:

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