What We Do & Why Art Matters

For over 60 years, national charity Paintings in Hospitals has used world‑class art to inspire better health for patients and carers in the UK. Find out more about the only national art collection designed specifically to support people’s physical and mental wellbeing.

By Paintings in Hospitals

Thomas Walshaw

Life Under Water 5 (2009) by Quentin BlakePaintings in Hospitals

Who We Are

Today Paintings in Hospitals is the UK's leading national arts in health charity but our beginnings were much smaller...  

National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery (1959)Paintings in Hospitals

In 1959, in a waiting room of the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London, Sheridan Russell fixed a large painting to the wall. Sheridan was the founder of Paintings in Hospitals.

Sheridan RussellPaintings in Hospitals

Sheridan had been displaying art in and around his hospital. He noticed people’s reactions to these new artworks and began to see just how important art really is to our health and wellbeing.  

Blue Green Table Piece (1960) by David WalshPaintings in Hospitals

With help from the Nuffield Foundation, Sheridan set out to create a special art collection. This would become Paintings in Hospitals: the first and only national collection to support people’s health.

Blue Green Table Piece (1960) by David WalshPaintings in Hospitals

This artwork by David Walsh was one of the first to enter the Paintings in Hospitals collection in 1960. 

On 6th April 1970, Sheridan was a guest on BBC Radio’s Desert Island Discs. In the only part of the programme still in existence, he speaks about starting 'something called Paintings in Hospitals’.

‘Clear Moment I' and '...II' by Charlotte Cornish (2011) by Ted AllenPaintings in Hospitals

Sheridan inspired more and more people to see the importance of art in healthcare. From that one London hospital in 1959, Paintings in Hospitals has grown to now work with over 180 health and social care organisations across the UK. 

Sea Bed (1968) by Birgit SkiöldPaintings in Hospitals

What We Do

Our aim is to transform the UK’s health by using world‑class art to inspire better wellbeing for everyone.  

Untitled by Edward DutkiewiczPaintings in Hospitals

Studies show that art can help us stay well, aid our recovery, and support us to live longer, healthier lives. We believe everybody should have the opportunity to experience these benefits.  

24 Hours (1995) by Mark CannonPaintings in Hospitals

We want to bring great art to everyone, including to people who can't reach it on their own. We do this through our exhibitions and art activities in all types of healthcare and social care. 

A hospice patient taking part in a Paintings in Hospitals art workshop (2019) by Paintings in HospitalsPaintings in Hospitals

We work in partnership with patients and carers to bring colour and creativity into clinical environments. And through workshops, we empower people with the skills to make their own decisions about art and their care. 

Chromatastic Paintings in Hospitals (2016) by Ian DavenportPaintings in Hospitals

Why Art Matters

From waiting rooms to wards, our surroundings have an impact on the way we think and feel... 

Connection I (1996) by Norie HatakeyamaPaintings in Hospitals

Art can transform stark clinical environments into compassionate care spaces filled with interest and inspiration. There is a large body of evidence showing that art improves health and wellbeing. 

Angel (2003) by Albert IrvinPaintings in Hospitals

A recent All‑Party Parliamentary Group report found that art can help meet challenges in health and social care around ageing, loneliness, long‑term conditions and mental health. 

Lime Green Disc over Cornflower Blue (1971) by Frank BeanlandPaintings in Hospitals

Other research has also shown that art eases anxiety, stress, and depression for both patients and care staff. And that art can even shorten the amount of time patients need to stay in hospital.  

Cottage Garden (1993) by Stephen BowerPaintings in Hospitals

Art reduces patients’ need for painkilling medication and has been shown to improve communication between patients and care staff. We think everyone should have the chance to experience these benefits. 

Paintings in Hospitals aims to transform the UK's health by using world-class art to inspire wellbeing for patients, carers and communities. Here's why. From the people who know. 

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