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Catholic hospital offers healing through art

By Emilie Ng

HOSPITAL maintenance worker Robin Cox knows healing patients at Brisbane’s St Vincent’s Private Hospital doesn’t merely require fixing medical equipment.

The passionate photographer is one of 20 local artists and art groups bringing beauty directly to the sick and injured, at St Vincent’s Private Hospital’s “Outside In” exhibition.

Mr Cox’s striking images, which include a floating ceiling of colourful umbrellas, are among 300 artworks displayed on each of the hospital’s eight floors and in their dedicated “art shell”.

“It takes their mind off what’s happening,” Mr Cox said.

“For some it’s a diversion from here.

“Nobody chooses to be at the hospital, so this exhibition is somewhere they can divert their mind, take them away somewhere.”

Mr Cox said his bright and cheerful photographs left patients imagining a story into a new world far from the hospital corridors.

“I think if you can take your mind off your troubles and focus on good things, happy things, joyful things, it goes a long way to self-healing because medicine can only go so far,” he said.

“If you don’t have faith with you to get better, you aren’t going to get better, so if you can introduce some faith, and joy, well that’s got to be a good thing.”

It is the second year the hospital has organised the exhibition, which stays on display until Wednesday, June 11.

St Vincent’s Private Hospital art curator Fiona Forrest said the exhibition and all artworks displayed through the corridors “made the place less clinical”.

“Particularly being a hospital where patients stay for a longer period of time, it’s just really helpful for their wellbeing and for their spirituality to be surrounded by beautiful artworks, things that make them contemplate where they are in life, and also remind of the world outside the hospital,” Ms Forrest said.

A joint research initiative with the Australian Catholic University found the art exhibition improved patients’ wellbeing and spirituality.

“There were many benefits, partly around them feeling uplifted, motivated and inspired by the artwork,” Ms Forrest said.

General manager Cheryl Royle said the hospital’s connection with locals artists also brought “a completely new dimension” to the centre’s mission.

“The true heart of it is artists coming to us that are completely disadvantaged and we’re helping them,” Mrs Royle said.

“They earn some money from the sale of the paintings and I guess that really warms my heart to think that we can actually do that.”

Creative endeavour: Curator Fiona Forrest, photographer Robin Cox and St Vincent’s Private Hospital general manager Cheryl Royle at the launch of the hospital’s Outside In art exhibition.

Creative endeavour: Curator Fiona Forrest, photographer Robin Cox and St Vincent’s Private Hospital general manager Cheryl Royle at the launch of the hospital’s Outside In art exhibition.

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