Japanese students spreading cheer at Southmead Hospital during Fresh Arts Festival

Friday, 18 September 2015

Japanese students and artists have been cheering up patients at Southmead Hospital by making origami, demonstrating calligraphy and creating whimsical characters inside the Brunel building.

The students from the University of Tsukubu are visiting the hospital along with their professor as part of their work on arts in healthcare.

They timed their visit to coincide with the community arts festival, which showcases the projects North Bristol NHS Trust runs to support patients through its Fresh Arts Programme so they could carry out workshops to benefits patients and visitors.

Students from the University of Tsukuba in Japan have been hosting workshops for patients at Southmead Hospital BristolThe University of Tsukubu has two student groups working on arts and the environment in healthcare. One, called Asparagus, focuses on providing workshops for patients in healthcare settings. The other, Paprika, focuses on making healthcare spaces more patient-friendly.

The group of 12 visiting Southmead Hospital this weekend includes Professor in Art Environment Support, Yasuyoshi Saito, Dr Herb Fondevilla who teaches at the university, PHD student Yukari Iwata, who also works as just one of a handful of medical arts co-ordinators in Japan, and artist and researcher Daichi Konaka – who also goes by the name “Dr Goblin” when creating characters out of washi tape.

As well as holding workshops, students from the university came up with designs for hospital wards suitable for dementia patients, which are on display inside the Brunel building as part of the Fresh Arts Festival. Their works are hanging alongside those from students at UWE Bristol in the blue atrium space opposite the Sanctuary as part of the festival.

Dr Goblin’s fun characters have been created out of colourful adhesive tape on the wall of the atrium opposite the exhibition and on the backs of visitors to the Fresh Arts Festival. He took inspiration from the new hospital to create new characters, including one based on the piano inside the atrium.

The group has received a grant from the Japanese government to study how the arts benefit health and was part of the motivation for them visiting Southmead Hospital.

Professor Saito said: “In terms of arts in hospitals there are two kinds of programmes – there are the exhibition types, such as paintings on walls and sculptures in the gardens but there is also the workshops that are held by students – they do calligraphy and washi tape and origami.

“In Japan we find that the patients are very happy when they see the smiling faces of young students and artists. It is very important that we can provide the smiles of the younger generations for our inpatients, to get them healthy and wealthy.”

Students from the University of Tsukuba in Japan have been hosting workshops for patients at Southmead Hospital Bristol

Dr Fondevilla said: “Arts in hospitals is very new in Japan and we have been trying to learn some things from the UK, such as the importance of having arts-co-ordinators.

“There is also the different use of space, light and colour and we are trying to work out what the Japan can learn from the UK and what the UK can learn from Japan.”

The Japanese group will be returning to the Fresh Arts Festival tomorrow (Saturday) where they will continue to offer workshops to patients and visitors.

For more information about the festival visit http://www.nbt.nhs.uk/fresh-arts/fresh-arts-projects/fresh-arts-festival...