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Delta Hospital wants to restore art to walls
Much ado about nothing?
Annette Garm, director of site operations for Delta Hospital, said the South Delta Artists’ Guild was not asked to remove their paintings from the hospital permanently and that it was all a misunderstanding.
“What we really wanted was just that wall to be cleaned up,” she said. “After 15 years of hanging art you can imagine that it’s started to look a little rough.”
The local artists’ guild has been hanging art in Delta Hospital for the past 15 years, but its relationship has historically been with the hospital’s auxiliary and not with administration or Fraser Health.
Garm said that earlier this year when the hospital asked the auxiliary to address the state of the wall and the hanging of the artwork, they were referring to a new coat of paint.
Now that the wall has been restored and painted, Garm said she will meet with the guild to have the art returned. She pointed out that there are other pieces of art that remain hanging in the hospital, and it was only the work from the guild that was removed.
The confusion may be due in part to a new nine-page policy change from Fraser Health regarding artwork across facilities run by the health authority.
The policy states that, “Artwork on display in public and patient care areas must be reviewed and approved by the appropriate committee and must meet the Fraser Health Authority artwork content guidelines.”
Nancy Cooley, founder of Arts Health Network Canada based in Victoria, said if the art is judged by a committee of people who don’t understand what constitutes beneficial art therapy then it won’t work. But she added an informed jury with a background in the subject would make sense.
“There is a fair amount of research that has been done that suggests the kinds of art that really does help people and the kind of art that can be worse for people,” she said.
Cooley said art provides a distraction for patients because it’s something beautiful to look at, and it makes them think and talk about it with others. That takes their mind away from their illness, which allows the body to heal.
She said in some cases art therapy can reduce the amount of pain medication patients require, alleviate or prevent depression, and speed recovery times.
“In diagnosis and treatment, arts and arts-based activities and creative arts therapies are being used for all kinds of purposes,” said Cooley, adding the best hospitals now have very extensive arts programs, not only for their patients but for their families and also for their staff.
Garm said although Delta Hospital doesn’t have a committee yet, there are certain types of art that aren’t therapeutic. Paintings of wildlife, such as flowers or animals, using softer tones tends to evoke a response that’s desirable in a health care environment. There are other images that evoke darker responses, such as images of war or people’s faces, that aren’t helpful.
“But we’ve never had any concerns about the images of the art that have been hanging,” she said. “They seem to have intuitively understood what was therapeutic art.”