Commission: Hospital 2019

Royal Hospital for Children Artwork

From 2016-19, Kate worked as Lead Artist for the Art and Therapeutic Design Project ‘Old to New’. She was commissioned to create 19 sculptural wall-mounted artworks. They were installed throughout the new Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh.


The new £150m hospital opened in 2020. It combines three separate services, including: the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People (RHCYP), the Department of Clinical Neurosciences and the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. Kate worked with Gingko Projects, Lothian Health Services Archive and NHS Lothian for this public art commission. The project aimed to develop a series of 19 permanent artworks.  Each artwork reflects the hospitals’ identities, histories and heritages. They also explore the future of the three services as they transition into their new state-of-the-art hospital.


The artworks resulted from extensive research at the Lothian Health Services Archive. Kate spent time in the three hospitals identifying the needs, vision and importance of the artworks with the users and steering group. Kate designed and fabricated 19 separate artworks, installed throughout in waiting rooms and corridors. She selected concepts and materials that relate to the immediate location of each piece. They address themes which included amongst others: identity, history, communication and dialogue, technology, repair and growth, architecture and legacy. For example, Angiograms woven in gold wire. MRI brain scans transformed into crystal geological agate slices. Brain neurons represented by ceramic dendrite glaze techniques. Polarized light artwork and porcelain pieces inspired by a 1859 nursing manual.

Each Royal Hospital for Children artwork was made in a relevant material, including: white earthenware, porcelain, gold wire, stainless steel, perspex, copper, polymer clay, soft play material, Jesmonite, laser cut wood, lead and steel. Working with the users and board from across the three services was essential. It ensured they felt central to the developing artwork. So the pieces reflected their identity, values, histories and heritage to create a sense of connection and ownership with the work.


The artworks not only needed to meet the extremely strict regulations required for a hospital environment. They also needed to enhance and elevate the hospital atmosphere. They had to aid wayfinding, be informative on the identified themes and offer users and visitors a moment for positive distraction and enjoyment. Kate set the task of creating artworks that strive to maintain longevity of engagement. She wanted the staff and long-term patients to continue to discover new aspects of the work after the first viewing. This was achieved through the inclusion of intricate details, innovative use of materials and the beauty of craftsmanship.  Kate focused on creating a comprehensive suite of artworks that bring imagination, sensitivity, enthusiasm and positivity to the new hospital.


The bespoke cabinets were designed to aid wayfinding in the hospital, with each department having their own specific background. The cabinets create porthole windows for the artwork. All the RHCYP pieces are mounted on cast brickwork backgrounds, moulded from their old building at Sciennes. The artwork for the Department of Clinical Neurosciences are mounted in illuminated light boxes. While the pieces for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services are displayed on faux grass, reflecting the importance of play within the service. These circular wall-mounted cabinets were designed through collaboration between Kate and furniture maker Joachim King. Together they created truly unique bespoke display units for the artwork.