Art that causes health
We have explained how the Cause Health movement is focused on health assets rather than health deficits. The creation of thoughtfully developed and integrated artwork is a tangible celebration of this salutogenic point of view.
Our approach to incorporating art at Sechelt Hospital on the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia demonstrates both a healthy process and a healthy result. This art brings to life the rich history, culture, legends and spirit of the First Nations shishalh people. We conceived of three major installations by local artists that would radiate messages of healing, protection and collaboration.
These works consist of a lobby sunburst mural, exterior entrance totem poles, and memorable elevator lobby symbols. Together they bring meaning, special identity and recognition that highly emotional life events happen here.
This holistic approach earned an international award for use of art in the patient environment at the 10th Annual Design and Health World Congress.
Drawing on the talents of Coast Salish shishalh people who first settled here thousands of years ago, the theme of healing was essential not only in relation to the hospital but also with regard to the First Nations’ painful history on this particular land. Generations of disease and misguided government policies, including hardship specifically related to hospital’s site, had taken a devastating toll. However, the Salish shishalh have moved forward to rebuild and heal painful memories. At a recent public ceremony to celebrate the unveiling of these completed artworks to the community, carver Tony Paul said that the totems convey messages of welcoming and healing, “Not just healing our health, but also healing our people.”
The poles at the entrance tell stories that connect the physical and spiritual worlds. A 50′ x 20′ sculptural sunburst mural was created by artist Shain Jackson who explains, ‘The Canoe People represent community; when others paddle with you in a canoe it is acknowledged that you are headed to the same place and devoted to the same goal.”
Young artists from the community were involved from start to finish in order to learn the entire process: from working with administrators and architects, to presenting and quoting on the work, to fabrication and installation.
Sechelt Hospital (originally St. Mary’s Hospital) has been listed as the 10th most environmentally friendly hospital in the world; the only one selected from Canada. This LEED Gold certified project also recently won a SAB Canadian Green Building Award. It was designed with the goal of becoming North America’s first carbon-neutral hospital.
– Sharon VanderKaay
project: St. Mary’s Hospital, Farrow in association with Perkins + Will Architects
mural photography: Latreille & Delage