Creating a welcoming atmosphere

Since the commissioning of Remco de Fouw’s highly acclaimed Quintess-ometry in the foyer of University Hospital Waterford in 1991, the first artwork created for a healthcare space in Ireland, public art has been central to the work of Waterford Healing Arts.

Waterford Regional Hospital first opened its doors in 1988. Recognising a need to transform the hospital space, Dr Abdul Bulbulia, a GP in Waterford City, introduced the idea of enhancing the hospital environment through the use of the visual arts. His vision and impetus led to the development of an Arts Committee composed of the Hospital Manager, Matron, members of staff and representatives of locally based arts initiatives.

The initial aims of this committee were to create a welcoming atmosphere and to neutralise negative perceptions of the hospital; to develop an awareness, appreciation and interest in the visual arts by hospital users and to support artists and promote their work.

The first initiative of this committee was to commission a welcoming artwork for the entrance area of the hospital. This commission was Quintess-ometry. Based on the four elements – earth, water, air and fire – it provided an engaging and interactive focus for the many patients, staff and visitors who passed through the hospital. Sadly, most of the sculptural pieces which made up this work were dismantled in 2022. One remaining piece is a prism located outside the front door of the hospital, which creates a rainbow effect when sunlight reflects through it.

Waterford Healing Arts has continued to work in partnership with various departments of the hospital, commissioning public artworks appropriate to each location. Many commissions in recent times are made possible through the Per Cent for Art Scheme, which sees Waterford Healing Arts working in partnership with the HSE Capital Projects team and local stakeholders in various settings.

Most recently, the artworks in the new wing of the Cardiac Catheterisation Laboratory were created by artist Conall Cary. The artworks were inspired by the work of historical naturalist photographers such as Karl Blossfeldt and Wilson Bentley, who pioneered technical methods that revealed the wonders of the microscopic natural world around us. These artworks were commissioned in 2021 by University Hospital Waterford under the Per Cent for Art Scheme and installed in late 2022. The commission was managed by Waterford Healing Arts.

Click here for a full history of public art commissions managed by Waterford Healing Arts.