B.C. Children’s Hospital makes a call for Canadian artists and healing art

At the best of times, being admitted into the hospital can be stressful. But for kids — especially ones that need to make repeated trips to the hospital — it can increase their anxiety exponentially.

It’s one of the reasons why artists across the country are being called upon to create 400 different works of art for an initiative called the Children’s Healing Experience Project.

The initiative is part of an innovative program from the New Teck Acute Care Centre at B.C. Children’s Hospital.

It’s engineered to make a “healing environment” for patients at the hospital that range in age from newborns to 17-year-olds.

The artwork the program is requesting is not to beautify the hospital, rather its for the purpose of distraction, learning and play.

Studies have shown that well-designed, purposeful art helps improve healing and reduce perceived pain by 60 per cent and anxiety by 75 per cent, said Chad Farquarson, a parent of a B.C. Children’s Hospital patient.

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Farquarson’s son, 4-year-old Grayson McGill, has spent much of his young life at B.C. Children’s Hospital battling a rare condition known as Maple Syrup Urine Disease.

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“It’s really important that we support the kids not just clinically but also emotionally and make sure they’re in the right head-space,” Farquarson said.

The art is not just for the walls but also for the new hospital’s open spaces, ceilings, and in some cases equipment.

Grayson has been sedated four times in his more than 85 visits to the BCCH last year.

“It’s so easy to be terrified,” said Farquarson. “Children are so quick to misunderstand what’s going to happen… and it results in needing an extra level of medical attention just to calm them down.”

From creating a theme in an MRI room with murals that make the exam less scary to adding patient-controlled coloured LED lights to a recovery space, the project aims to engage young patients and provide a better healing experience for them, read the call for artists.

The Teck Acute Care Centre is a new 640,000 square foot building with eight floors, which is slated to be completed in November 2017.

The $676-million centre will be the new heart of children’s hospital and will include an emergency department, pediatric intensive care, medical imaging, an oncology program and other health services.

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The call for artists said it’s looking for art that “celebrates the ecological and cultural diversity within the region the hospital serves — B.C. and Yukon and that the artwork “should evoke messages of hope and healing for children, youth, family, staff and visitors.”

The art will be placed in a variety of areas and the project will consider a wide variety of media including sculpture, oil, watercolour and acrylic paintings, limited edition prints, mixed media art, mosaics, fabric art, illustrations and photographs. All artwork will need to meet hospital infection and safety standards.

Artists have until May 6 to apply and submit their ideas and proposals online. The hospital’s budget for the art is $1 million, with commissions ranging from up to $10,000 apiece for original artwork to prints and ceiling panels at $200 each.

For more information on the project and submissions head to:

PHOTO GALLERY: Examples of healing environments

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