Anyone who has ever visited, stayed or worked in Rookwood Hospital cannot help but have noticed the wonderful trees that grow so abundantly in the grounds.
This spring a group of artists, volunteers, patients and NHS staff members took part in the ‘Through The Trees’ arts for wellbeing project, and were given the opportunity to work in the atmospheric Rookwood Boardroom.
Over these few months the ‘Rookwood Trail’ began to emerge and the group were able to create some pieces of work in response to this and to the beautiful and historic setting they found themselves in.
Lead by artist Louise Jensen, the group displayed their work in the chapel at Rookwood Hospital and invited the public to join them on the tree trail on the 19th June 2019. The event was attended by Maria Battle, Chair of Cardiff and Vale UHB, Rachel Lewis, Rookwood Hospital Chaplain and the Bishop of Llandaff, June Osborne.
As they traversed the hospital grounds, Louise stopped to talk about the history of the trees and their place in not only the hospital but also in wider society. Examples included giant evergreen sequoias which were brought to the United Kingdom during the Victorian era and planted on the grounds by Sir Edward Hill before the grand home became a hospital in 1932.
For many patients, their conditions and treatment are long term, keeping them away from their friends, family and familiar environments. This can be for many months while they regain their health or learn to live with managing their present health in a different way. Being away from family and friends and ‘living’ within a clinical environment can have an impact on the patient’s wellbeing and in turn slow recovery, leading to a longer hospital stay.
The session was a touching way for the patients of Rookwood to explore their surroundings and reconnect with the natural world surrounding the hospital. The positive impact of both nature and wildlife and the creative arts upon physical and mental wellbeing is recognised and the session enabled them to access these benefits.
Simone Joslyn, Head of Arts at Cardiff and Vale UHB, said, “It was a pleasure to have Louise as an artist in residence at Rookwood Hospital. To have her facilitate interaction between the patients and the wildlife and nature of in the grounds of the hospital was hugely beneficial to their wellbeing and the work that they have created together will be a lasting legacy of Rookwood as services begin to be transferred to University Hospital of Llandough.”
Special Thanks to:
Anthony Denning from Mensheds who very kindly built the chair frames for the exhibition. These will afterwards be situated in the back garden of Rookwood Hospital for visitors and patients to enjoy.
Kevin Jensen for his creative carpentry and Lucy Jensen for her pyrographic skills in the making of the signposts for the Trail of Trees around the Rookwood Grounds
The Hospital Chaplaincy, and, in particular, Reverend Rachel Lewis, who gave help and support every step of the way and kindly allowed us to be in the beautiful Rookwood Chapel
To all those who took part in the project including members of the Stiwdio Arts Group, NHS staff members and patients from wards 4 and 5 in Rookwood Hospital.