Locally based charity Arts Alive Wales has launched Aerial, their new artwork for the Outpatients Hall in Nevill Hall Hospital. The formal opening was made by Oliver Fairclough, Keeper of Collections at the National Museum of Wales, who lives locally and is an acknowledged expert on the work of poet and artist David Jones, whose prose poem In Parenthesis provided the initial inspiration for the new artwork.
Aerial is the culmination of over 12 months work by Arts Alive Wales, an organisation dedicated to creating collaborations between the public and professional artists. The project, part of their growing arts and health programme, has been led by Brecon-based artist Tessa Waite, supported by AAW manager Kathy Young, and a team of hand-picked artists, who have worked with Gwent based groups throughout 2014 to create the new installation.
Tessa Waite’s creative response and design concept was a response to the imagery of poet and artist David Jones, who lived and worked in nearby Llanthony Valley during the 1920s. The choice of this poem, which is based on Jones’ experiences as a Tommy in a Welsh regiment in World War I, acknowledges the centenary of the Great War, but is not intended to be a commemoration. Arts Alive Wales director Justine Wheatley explains “Tessa’s creative vision is hopeful and tender, drawing on Jones’ own ideas of the power and solace we can find in our relationship and connection to the natural world”. Nevill Hall Hospital, surrounded as it is by the spectacular rural landscape of Wales’ Black Mountains, seems a good place to remind us of this.
Aerial is a structure of aluminium hoops that encircle the Hall’s pillars, each hung with the participants’ contributions to create a sparkling ‘chandelier’ of movement, colour and light. The coloured gels of blues, yellows and pink that adorn the atrium windows reflect onto the hanging forms to give a glow of colour and can also be seen from outside, even by passing motorists on the A40. As with all Arts Alive Wales projects, the actual artwork was made by community members. Thanks to a range of funders, including the Arts Council of Wales, over 200 people from Gwent have been involved including young homeless people, Young Carers, and adults and young people facing mental health issues, Monmouthshire Housing Association residents and students at King Henry VIII comprehensive School.
The project would not have been possible without close partnerships with the hospital particularly with the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board estates team, who installed the structure, and with Sarah Goodey, arts development manager for GARTH, (Gwent Arts in Health) who works tirelessly to enhance the experience of the hospital environment. Sarah commented “I was hoping Aerial would invigorate the waiting area with a stimulating array of light, movement, sparkle and shadow, it certainly does that. It looks amazing”