The Nightingale Project organises temporary exhibitions at South Kensington and Chelsea Mental Health Centre, and installs works of art for permanent display in other mental health units. This page gives examples of projects undertaken in recent years.
Child Development Centre, Hillingdon Hospital
Artist: Quentin Blake
In Summer 2012 Quentin Blake completed a set of work for the Hillingdon Child Development Centre, which moved into a new home at Hillingdon Hospital.
The Team at the CDC had some special requests for Quentin, one of which was that the doors should be marked with a cat, an owl, a parakeet and so on, at child’s eye-level, so that the child in the waiting room could be asked to go not to, say, Room 3, but to look for the room with the purple owl on the door. Quentin drew a series of animals specially for this purpose – and coloured stickers of the same animals were also made to give to the children.
Ellington Ward, Northwick Park Hospital
Artist: Ian Beck
For the newly refurbished older adults’ mental health ward at Northwick Park, Harrow, we commissioned illustrator Ian Beck to produce a series of drawings of Charlie Chaplin and other stars of early cinema and music hall. These were made into large giclee prints, which were then complemented by vintage film posters. Chaplin was chosen as the focus of this display because of his universal appeal over the last 90 or so years, thus hopefully being recognisable to inpatients of all ages. In addition Ian Beck’s drawings brought out an apt quality of dignity in adversity in the figure of Chaplin.
The new Ellington Ward has two wings, one each for men and women. The Quentin Blake circus images (see below, 2009) now occupy the women’s area, and the Chaplin series the men’s corridor, thus helping to give the separate areas their individual identities and helping patients with wayfinding.
The film posters installed were brightly coloured and graphic, and Ian Beck’s images, being delicately drawn in subtle and muted tones, contrasted beautifully with them to create an attractive and visually interesting environment.
Beryl Bainbridge: First ever exhibition of her paintings
South Kensington and Chelsea Mental Health Centre
Beryl Bainbridge had an undisputed place as one of the finest British novelists of her era, famously being nominated five times for the Booker Prize. What was almost unknown during her lifetime, however, was that she was also a remarkable painter. In 2011, a year after her death, the Nightingale Project presented the first ever exhibition of her work.When completing a novel, Bainbridge would often reach for a paintbrush and create a portrait inspired by the just-finished book – but not with the intention of exhibiting or selling the picture. The fact that she was not taking her work as a painter too seriously perhaps gave her a freedom in paint that is apparent in the quality of the pictures.Following this exhibition, there is another show of Beryl’s work in her home city, at the Museum of Liverpool, from December 2012 to 28 April 2013.
This fundraiser was also a tribute to Sir Richard Rodney Bennett in his 75th birthday year. The concert featured the jazz-inspired music produced by composers in 1920s Berlin, when composers like Kurt Weill and Erwin Schulhoff were incorporating the new ‘Hot Music’ from America into their musical language, creating a style of music that seemed to embody the modernity of Weimar Germany.
The progtramme included the UK premiere of JAZZ CONCERTO, Sir Richard’s orchestration of Schulhoff’s ‘Hot Sonata’ of 1928. (This wonderful performance is still viewable on Youtube in four parts). And Sir Richard himself took to the piano in Weill’s suite from the Threepenny Opera.
Other performers included the saxophonist John Harle, baritone Richard Suart, and Robert Ziegler conducting the Matrix Ensemble.
June to December 2010
Richard Rodney Bennett: Collages
Sir Richard Rodney Bennett was internationally known as a composer, of orchestral music and of film scores, as well as being a writer and performer of jazz cabaret songs. Until 2010, however, it was almost entirely unknown that he was also a visual arrtist, working in the medium of abstract collage. Sir Richard acknowledged the influence of Kurt Schwitters as well as several twentieth-century American collagists – Anne Ryan, Hannelore Baron, William Dole, Robert Nickle and Robert Courtright.
In 2010 the Nightingale Project presented the first ever exhibition of Richard Rodney Bennett’s collages. Subsequently we assisted him in organising exhibitions of his collages at the Wimbledon Music Fesival, the Lewis Elton Gallery, Surrey, the Holt Festival, Norfolk, and the Swaledale Festival, Yorkshire.
Sir Richard was a Patron of the Nightingale Project. He died in December 2012.
28 March 2010
Purcell Room, Southbank Centre
Tippett Quartet and Soojung Lim play in aid of the Nightingale Project
In March 2010 The Nightingale Project staged a successful fundraising concert at the Purcell Room to raise funds to buy works of art for Park Royal Centre for Mental Health. Korean-Spanish pianist Soojung Lim played the UK premiere of the newly revised and published score of Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto, with the brilliant Tippett Quartet and bassist Stephen Williams.
Will Alsop is one of Britain’s best-known architects: most famous in the UK for Peckham Library, for which he won the Stirling Prize, and more recently for the acclaimed Chips building in Manchester, he has designed numerous buildings internationally. He is also a painter, and indeed his designs for buildings often grow out of paintings.
This exhibition presented a selection of Alsop’s paintings and mixed-media works, a few of which made reference to architecture, but most of which were non-architectural. Many were bold, colourful and abstract and demonstrated the quality in Alsop’s work that architecture critic Stephen Bayley describes as ‘a tipsy bravura’. The show included an example of one that he made in a workshop with inpatients on a mental health ward.
On January 25th world-renowned pianist Stephen Hough visited Park Royal Centre for Mental Health to play a concert to inpatients - who came from several different wards to listen to the recital. He played Bach and Chopin, answered questions from the audience, and responded to requests by playing ‘Midnight in Moscow’ and Debussy’s ‘Girl with the Flaxen Hair’. One inpatient was also inspired enough to step forward and play a piece herself.
September – November 2009
Thrills Up Ahead! Exhibition of Paintings, Prints, Cut-outs and Constructions by Jonny Hannah.
Jonny Hannah is one of the outstanding illustrators of his generation. Since leaving the Royal College of Art he has worked as a freelance illustrator for such clients as the Sunday Telegraph and the New York Times, and created the award-winning picture book Hot Jazz Special (Walker Books). He makes screenprints and linocuts under his own imprint, the Cakes and Ale Press. This exhibition at the South Kensington and Chelsea Mental Health Centre featured a selection of his recent work, and launched a new box set of ten screenprints, The Darktown Hokum Blues.
Peter Blake exhibition in association with For Arts Sake, Ealing.
For Arts Sake presented an exhibition of prints by legendary pop artist Sir Peter Blake, with a proportion of proceeds being donated to the Nightingale Project. On 4th October Sir Peter attended the private view and signed books in the gallery. The Peter Blake Art Bus, a gallery on wheels created by CCA Galleries, was parked at For Arts Sake for the day. CCA also donated a copy of Blake’s limited edition silkscreen of Sergeant Pepper, which was auctioned in aid of the Nightingale Project.
April to July 2009:
Quentin Blake: Our Friends in the Circus
Quentin was asked to produce a set of drawings for Ellington Ward, the older adults’ mental health ward at Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow. He created a series of Circus characters – jugglers, tightrope-walkers, fire-eaters and clowns – all of an older age group, forming an exhibition which could be seen as celebrating the lifelong persistence of well-practised talents. The pictures were shown temporarily at South Kensington and Chelsea MHC before being hung in their permanent home at Northwick Park Hospital. The seventeen images in this project are available as high-quality individually made prints, each signed and dated by Quentin. See Sales page.
Quentin Blake at the Gordon Hospital, Pimlico
Quentin was asked to create some pictures for the reception area of the Gordon Hospital, an adult mental health hospital in Pimlico. He created a set of pictures depicting people and pot plants, using as his starting point the observation that there are often pot plants in hospital waiting rooms. Next we installed in the outpatients’ corridor a sequence of pictures by Quentin of swimmers – see also Quentin’s newspage. The swimmers pictures refresh what was previously a lifeless corridor, and inasmuch as they depict people thriving in a unfamiliar environment, contain a positive message for people ariving in the hospital.
Will Alsop at St Charles Hospital
Will Alsop is well-known as an architect who paints. In 2008 he offered to come into a ward at St Charles Hospital, North Kensington, to run a series of painting workshops with mental health inpatients. Will worked together with patients and staff on the paintings, each of which were in other words a collaborative creation. Will took the paintings to his studio to finish off, and presented them back to the Hospital, where they now brighten up the ward where they were created.
October 2008 to March 2009:
Edwin La Dell
Edwin La Dell (1914-1970) was a highly influential figure in British printmaking. and was Head of Printmaking at the Royal College of Art. The Nightingale Project exhibition (at South Kensington and Chelsea MHC) focused on two groups of La Dell’s prints: one depicting the Kent countryside, where he lived, the other being his last and most experimental series of prints, arising from a trip to New York in 1967.
November 2007 to March 2008:
Tea and a Slice of Art: The Lyons Lithographs
In the years after the Second World War, J.Lyons and Co commissioned leading British artists of the time, such as L.S.Lowry, Duncan Grant, Edward Ardizzone and Edward Bawden to create lithographs to decorate the 250 Lyons teashops. This exhibition presented 30 of the original 40 lithographs produced between 1947 and 1955. Illustrator Peter Bailey produced a limited-edition print especially for our show, depicting the front of a Lyons teashop, which was on sale in aid of the Nightingale Project. The exhibition (at South Kensington & Chelsea) was presented with kind assistance from the Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne, Clifford Chance LLP, and Austin/Desmond Fine Art.
Paul Cox at St Charles Hospital
Illustrator Paul Cox, well-known for his work for such papers as The Telegraph and Sunday Times, and his illustrations for many books including for The Folio Society, created a major series of fifteen watercolour paintings for the reception area, waiting room and stairwells at St Charles Hospital, North Kensington. Some of the paintings depict local scenes such as the Portobello Road and Notting Hill Carnival, which helps to connect the life of the hospital with the local community. Others depict London bridges, but also Paul painted a Cornish harbour scene, directly recreating a large painting from the 1950s by Julian Trevelyan, which has been at St Charles for many years and was restored and rehung in the reception area, with Paul’s painting nearby.
March – September 2007:
Ian Beck: The Butterfingers Pictures
This exhibition presented the latest illustrations of Ian Beck, described in the Times as ‘one of Britain’s greatest illustrators’. The pictures in this show were made for Julia Trewellard’s book Butterfingers, (David Fickling Books) and were created entirely in silhouette. The exhibition included the original black and white silhouettes, as well as hand-coloured etchings and giclee prints.
Ian Beck’s recent publications include Winston the Book Wolf (with Marni McGee, Bloomsbury Children’s Books), and The Secret History of Tom Trueheart, Boy Adventurer (OUP). His latest book, Pastworld, is published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books in October 2009.
October 2006-February 2007:
Quentin Blake: Sixty New Drawings
Having completed the sixteen drawings for the main corridors, sitting and dining rooms of Kershaw Ward, Quentin was asked to do a drawingfor each of the nineteen bedrooms. Quentin was so inspired by the project that he in fact produced not nineteen, but over sixty, drawings! These were exhibited over the winter of 2006-7, and those that did not find a permanent home in Kershaw’s bedrooms were installed in a continuing care home in Kensington. High quality signed reproductions of many of them are available for sale – see Sales page.
Quentin Blake: The Kershaw Pictures
Quentin Blake, Britain’s most celebrated illustrator, for the first time created a set of pictures especially for a hospital. These drawings were exhibited temporarily alongside some of Quentin’s preparatory sketches in our outpatients’ department, and larger versions installed permanently in Kershaw Ward. The Ward is an older adults’ ward, so Quentin was asked to create images of older people enjoying themselves, and produced drawings showing older people playing musical instruments, dancing, even swinging from the branches of trees!
High-quality signed prints of these images are available for sale in aid of of the Nightingale Project – see Sales page. Quentin also later made these drawings into a book, You Only Live Twice!, published by Andersen Press (also available in French and German editions from Gallimard and Carlsen).
September 2005- February 2006:
Jonny Hannah: Works from the Cakes and Ale Press, featuring Jelly Roll, Rocket Man, Satchmo and Stovies.
Jonny Hannah studied at Liverpool Art School and the Royal College of Art, graduating in 1998. He has illustrated numerous books and book-covers such as six John Steinbeck covers for Penguin and A Commonplace Book by Alec Guinness, as well as working for periodicals such as Vogue and illustrating a regular column in the Independent on Sunday. He recently won a national illustration award for Hot Jazz Special, a book for children about the healing power of good music, and participated in a related exhibition in the Victoria and Albert Museum. The Nightingale Project exhibition included pen drawings, screenprints issued under his own imprint, The Cakes and Ale Press, and a unique painted door and window. A number of these works have been purchased for permanent display in the Hospital.
Hannah Firmin: A selection of work from the last twenty years
Hannah Firmin has worked as an illustrator since leaving the Royal College of Art in 1981. Daughter of Peter Firmin, who with Oliver Postgate created the animated television classics The Clangers, Noggin the Nog and Bagpuss, she developed an early interest in art, and at the R.C.A. was encouraged by her teachers Quentin Blake and Linda Kitson to develop her interest in lino-cut. Her style has evolved into a unique combination of lino or vinylcut with collage and paint, and she has produced work for numerous magazines and newspapers. She won Best Cover of the Year at the British Book Awards in 2004 for her cover for Alexander McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. Her Nightingale Project exhibition comprised a selection of her work from the last twenty years. Arising out of this exhibition, Hannah has gone on to produce a number of beautiful woodcuts for a local continuing care home for older adults.
Ian Beck: Illustrations for Children’s Books 1984-2004
Ian Beck is one of the most distinguished contemporary children’s book illustrators, having produced over fifty books. His exhibition for the Nightingale Project was his first solo exhibition for ten years, and brought together original artwork from numerous outstanding children’s books such as his Peter and the Wolf, his version of Edward Lear’s The Jumblies, and his Oxford Nursery Book.
Christopher Corr: Big Car, New Haircut, Places to See
Christopher Corr is a London-based painter and illustrator who travels the world painting people, colourful places, big cars, beautiful buildings and dogs. Born in Camden Town in 1955, he studied at the Royal College of Art, and since then has exhibited many times at the Curwen Gallery and the Berkeley Square Gallery in London, as well as in other countries. His clients include Qantas, Body Shop, Ikea and Eurostar, and he has published many illustrated books, such as The Arabian Nights and Ebby Meets Felicity. The Nightingale Project exhibition was a selection of his paintings of places such as India, Tahiti, the Comoros Islands, Cuba, Peru, and New York. His paintings are colourful, vivid and life-affirming, and several have been acquired for the Hospital at Chelsea. As a result of this exhibition, Christopher has also been commissioned to produce paintings for St Charles Hospital and the Woodland Centre, the older adults’ mental health unit at Hillingdon Hospital.