A while ago, I was sent an email saying that dot-art were looking for an artist to develop a mural for Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, which would add some colour and energy to the space. I put together an expression of interest for them, and because I had experience of working with children and producing murals in a hospital setting, I was selected to work with the team.
I proposed a street art theme, not only because that’s the style that I work in, but that children’s hospitals are generally decorated with cartoons even though the facilities cater for young people up to the age of 16 (and ongoing conditions up to 18). I’d have to brush up on my painting skills though, no spraypainting allowed!
Developing some ideas with the staff, we settled on having a tree as the focal point in the waiting room with some bright and bold animals going down the corridors. As this was for the Cardiology & Ophthalmology clinic, the tree leaves were going to be made up of Ishihara colour blind tests and the animals would have some facts next to them about their hearts or eyes.
I designed a lot of the work digitally which I then projected onto the walls, and I really enjoyed getting to use acrylics and brushes even though the paint palette was more restricted than I’m used to. The first marks on the wall were pretty nerve-wracking and the initial layers of the pieces looked quite dark!
By the end of the 3rd night, things were starting to take shape and the geometric patterns were brightening the place up. Even some of the Work In Progress photos I was posting on my Instagram feed were getting a lot of attention and positive comments which kept me going through the nights and into the early mornings.
I painted a picture of a hummingbird which was based on an old stencil piece which had a glitchy, pixelated background to put the vinyl lettering onto. Next to this was a honey bee with textured paint and a honeycomb background.
On the opposite wall I decided to play around with large right-angled triangles which really grounded the detailed eagle onto the wall. This was next to a dragonfly which was brought to life with a turquoise glitter vinyl, then on from that was a snowy owl which was just painted using its black markings on the plain white wall which gave a really striking effect next to a yellow geometric background.
I was then asked to go back and paint some more heart facts in the actual waiting room, so did a bit more research and settled on a giraffe which I absolutely love painting, and a frog which tied into some facts about the heart chambers in different species of animals. There was also an awkward size space opposite the windows which was perfect for putting some comic book style exclamations with some facts about human hearts and eyes to make it relatable to the patients and their families.
After I had finished all the work, I remembered a conversation with a 4yr old girl while doing some research for the mural who said she loved ladybirds, and I promised I’d hide one on the wall for her. I painted it just above a doorframe in the waiting room, I hope she notices it!
This mural was created with System 3 Acrylic Paints, Daler Rowney Brushes, Winsor & Newton Medium and Frogtape. Thanks to dot-art for organising it and to Vicky Charnock at Alder Hey for co-ordinating the project.