Art at Guy's Cancer

Integrating art into patient care

Cancer

Research shows that visual art and good design can contribute to improved well-being for patients, staff and visitors.

At the new Cancer Centre at Guy's, our ambitious arts programme aims to transform the experience for patients being treated for cancer.

Art in the new Cancer Centre at Guy's

Art Art in the Cancer Centre at Guy'swithin the new Cancer Centre transforms spaces and helps people to find their way around the building. The arts programme aims to transform the experience of those undergoing cancer treatment through high-quality, specially commissioned and site responsive artworks that have been embedded within the building design.

At the heart of the arts programme are six unique commissions by leading international contemporary artists. They include sculpture, furniture, film, light installations and graphics.

The artists worked in consultation with the Cancer Centre’s design team – including the architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and Stantec. This collaboration ensures the commissions work in harmony with the building’s award-winning design and help make the Centre a welcoming and engaging space. 

Alongside the new commissions, items from the large fine art and heritage collection of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity are also on display in the new Centre.

Created together

The arts programme at Guy’s Cancer has been developed in partnership. Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust has worked with artists, patients, carers, staff and leading cultural consultancy Futurecity to develop and deliver an ambitious programme. We also work with local partners including Camberwell College of Arts (UAL). The Chemotherapy Drip Stand Competition was a live project for their second year 3D design students.

Patients have been at the heart of developing the arts programme. People affected by cancer and staff working in cancer services helped select the artists and the works for the new Cancer Centre. They have been involved throughout the development of the artworks through a patient reference group and an arts steering group.

The arts programme at Guy’s Cancer has been fully funded through a grant from Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity and donations from generous supporters. We continue to welcome donations to enrich the programme further and maintain the artworks.

For more information about the arts programme please email Anne Farthing at anne.farthing@gstt.nhs.uk or Liz O'Sullivan at liz.o'sullivan@gstt.nhs.uk.

For more photos of the art installations at the Cancer Centre, see our art gallery.

  • Art commission: Boat by Daniel Silver

    Commission: Boat, 2016
    Artist: Daniel Silver
    Materials: bronze, concrete
    Location: main entrance, Great Maze Pond – Guy’s Cancer Centre.

    ‘Boat’ by Daniel Silver, 2016. Photography (c) Ron Bambridge, courtesy of Futurecity.Daniel took the Roman boat (AD 190-225) buried almost five metres beneath the Cancer Centre as the starting point for his sculpture. This 50ft vessel is believed to have been abandoned in the tidal creek of Guy’s Channel – a tributary of the River Thames from the prehistoric to the medieval periods. Discovered in 1958, the boat remains have been granted ‘Scheduled Monument’ status by Historic England.

    Daniel has always been drawn to archaeology and its influence and impact on us today, and saw the boat’s preservation as a valuable link to our history and our collective journey. Through consultation with Roy Stephenson, Head of the Archaeological Collection at the Museum of London, he discovered how London used to be a city made up of islands and Venetian-style canals.

    The journey of the Roman boat through the archipelagos of medieval Southwark led Daniel to consider the links with our individual journeys through London and the wider world, and patient journeys both through the Cancer Centre and treatment. The depiction of a boat as a focal point and a welcome to the Centre seemed appropriate, positioned next to the road – docked mid-way on its journey.

    About the artist

    Daniel Silver (born 1972, London). The art of ancient Greece is particularly important to Daniel Silver and many of his recent sculptures and works on paper have evolved from the study of statues and busts in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. Such objects possess an intense clarity of purpose, a purpose largely lost to us but one which would have been instantly familiar to their contemporary audiences. Silver sees them now as the products of making and re-making; by the original artist, by the weathering of time and by their re-presentation as a piece of history in a museum.

    For more information, visit:

    (Photo: 'Boat' by Daniel Silver, 2016. Photography (c) Ron Bambridge, courtesy of Futurecity.)

  • Art commission: Genius Loci by Gitta Gschwendtner

    Commission: Genius Loci, 2016
    Artist: Gitta Gschwendtner
    Materials: steel mesh, vinyl, foam (screen seats); clear lacquered engineered oak, clear lacquered solid oak (tables, desks, chairs, coffee tables)
    Location: throughout the Cancer Centre

    Genius Loci by Gitta Gschwendtner

    Gitta’s furniture commission focuses on creating a sensitive and coherent patient-centred narrative across the Cancer Centre’s public spaces. Extensive research and consultation with patients and staff revealed the desire for privacy in the open plan village atria.

    Her seating clusters provide inward-looking, reflective environments which add playful layers of colour throughout the building. Gitta’s ‘Welcome’ table and furniture break up the large meeting or reception table form, enabling the reception spaces to retain the philosophy of a shared environment.

    About the artist

    Born in Germany, Gitta Gschwendtner moved to London in the early nineties to study design at Central Saint Martins, Kingston University and the Royal College of Art. Following graduation from the RCA furniture MA in 1998 she set up her independent design studio for furniture, interior design, exhibition design and public art projects for cultural, arts and corporate clients. Gitta Gschwendtner’s studio focuses on conceptually rigorous, visually intriguing, functional designs across several disciplines. 

    For more information, visit:

    (Genius Loci by Gitta Gschwendtner. Photograph by Ron Bambridge, courtesy of Futurecity.)

  • Art commission: Hanging Gardens by Mariele Neudecker

    Commission: Hanging Gardens – Parallel Lives_1.39m, 9.78m, 22.59m, 30.79m, 37.26m and 42.0m, 2016
    Artist: Mariele Neudecker
    Materials: video/audio
    Location: atria main lifts

    Mariele Neudecker wanted to create an opportunity for patients to be transported into a green, natural and other world. Finding parallels between the ‘urban jungle’ of London and the growth patterns of a rainforest, she has introduced a window and video screen into the main lifts, enabling passengers to view the cityscape outside and at the same time, a synchronised, vertical journey taken through a rainforest.

    The three video and sound recordings were captured from a 120ft observation tower at the Tiputini Biodiversity Station, a scientific research centre in the Ecuadorian Amazon – one of the most biodiverse forests in the world. They were taken from three different vantage points within the forest at three different times of the day. From left to right (if you are looking at the lifts) these are: lift 1 – early morning; lift 2 – midday; and lift 3 – afternoon.

    Filming was supported by Bath Spa University and the BBC’s Natural History Unit, Bristol. With thanks to Dr Kelly Swing, John Taylor and Laurie Lax.

    About the artist

    Mariele Neudecker (born 1965, Germany) lives and works in Bristol, UK and uses a broad range of media including sculpture, film and photography as well as sound. Her works have been exhibited widely internationally both in group and solo exhibitions.

    Her practice investigates the formation and historical dissemination of cultural constructs around the natural world and notion of a contemporary sublime. Neudecker often uses technology’s virtual capabilities in order to reproduce a heightened experience of nature and landscape, thus addressing the subjective and mediated condition of any first-hand encounter.

    For more information, visit:

  • Art commission: The Mountain by Karel Martens

    Commission: The Mountain, 2016
    Artist: Karel Martens
    Materials: vinyl (wall wrap 300)
    Location: village atria main lift walls

    The Mountain by Karel MartensThe Cancer Centre’s colourful layers of design reminded Karel Martens of a mountain. For him, they evoked memories of Thomas Mann’s classic novel The Magic Mountain, which depicts a place of healing, relaxation and contemplation, cut off from everyday life. 

    Karel selected fragments of mountain landscape photographs and – applying his signature technique – transformed these images into patterns made up of coloured pixels, which correspond with the Cancer Centre Village colours. These pixels are made up of a series of shapes which have been placed on top of one another to give the illusion of depth.

    The Mountain was art directed by Pentagram.

    About the artist

    Karel Martens (born 1939) finished as a student at the Arnhem School of Art (Holland) in 1961. Since then he has worked as a freelance graphic designer, specialising in typography. Alongside this, he has always made free (non-commissioned) graphic and three-dimensional work. His clients have included the publishers Van Loghum Slaterus (Arnhem) in the 1960s, and the SUN (Socialistiese Uitgeverij Nijmegen) in the years 1975–81.  

    As well as designing books and other printed items, Karel has designed stamps and telephone cards (for the Dutch PTT) and signs and typographic façades for a number of buildings. In 1999, he made the design for the façade of the printing company Veenman in Ede in commission for Neutelings Riedijk Architecten in collaboration with the writer K Schippers. In 2005, Karel designed the glass façades of the new part of the building for the Philharmonie in Haarlem. This design was based on a music score by Louis Andriessen.

    For more information, visit:

    (The Mountain by Karel Martens. Photography (c) Nick Turner, courtesy of Pentagram.)

  • Art commission: Radiance by Angela Bulloch

    Commission: Radiance, 2016
    Artist: Angela Bulloch
    Materials: digital animation, corian clusters, RGBW LED cube lamps, aluminium, cables, poles
    Location: Village atria

    Radiance by Angela BullochAngela Bulloch has created a series of animated light sculptures which perform what she describes as a ‘piece of visual music’ running through four corian clusters in the main Village atria. Angela has developed an LED cube lamp system which enables the translucent white artworks to cast a range of changing colour shades into the atria spaces. Each cluster matches and shifts from its corresponding Village colour in a harmonious wave action. For one minute every hour, on the hour, nine shades of blue pass through the clusters. Whenever the clusters turn blue, it is a reminder of the passage of time.

    About the artist

    Angela Bulloch’s work spans many forms, but they all manifest her interest in systems, patterns and rules, and the creative territory between mathematics and aesthetics.

    Since graduating from Goldsmiths’ College in 1988 as part of the ‘freeze’ generation of young British artists, her work has crystallised into a number of distinct but related strands. The ‘Pixel Boxes’ have become her most familiar component: initially fabricated in beech wood with a plastic front screen, their softly changing and pulsing colours at first distilled and abstracted complex visual patterns into simple shifting monochromes, and became a signature of a conceptual practice that avoided the shock strategies of many of her contemporaries. More recently, fabricated in copper, aluminium or corian they pay closer homage to their minimalist heritage, while the colours they channel are freed from their source contexts or signalling language systems to become pure abstraction.

    For more information, visit:

    (Radiance by Angela Bulloch. Photography (c) Ron Bambridge, courtesy of Futurecity.)

  • Art commission: Living Room by BAT Studio and The Workers;
    David Di Duca, Jonty Craig and Ross Cairns

    Commission: Living Room, 2016
    Artist: BAT Studio with The Workers; David Di Duca and Jonty Craig; Ross Cairns
    Location: Welcome Village

    The Cancer Centre architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners designed a space in the Welcome Village to provide a safe and comfortable environment for patients outside the clinical environment – a Contemplation Room.

    Touchstone collaborations – a socially engaged arts research practice – were commissioned to explore the nature of ‘contemplation’ with patients and staff, and to understand their hopes and desires for the space. They facilitated several well attended workshops and published the outcomes of their work, which included a proposed new name for the space: The Living Room. Following on from Touchstone’s work, sensory agency Vetyver were commissioned to undertake a sensory audit of the hospital to highlight ways in which The Living Room might be designed to offer a different sensory experience to that within the rest of the Cancer Centre.

    A design brief was created for The Living Room and design practices were invited to tender for the commission. The selected proposal was from architecture and design practice BAT Studio. The Listening Living Room stimulates the imagination and facilitates moments of escapism.

    Bespoke bamboo furniture has been designed with speakers embedded within it which provide distinct zones of ambient sound which do not overlap. The calming soundscapes are created by an app developed in collaboration with The Workers – which uses real time information (such as the time, date and weather) to create sounds representative of those that would be heard at that exact moment of time in locations around both the UK and the world. Each sound zone has a small screen to indicate where the sounds are from and what is happening in that specific location at that precise time.

    For more information, visit:

  • Chemotherapy Drip Stand: competition by UAL design students

    Drip stand story.Guy’s Cancer worked in partnership with Camberwell College of Arts (UAL) to run a competition for second year students of 3D design. The project formed part of their BA degree course.

    The brief for the competition was to design a drip-stand for the chemotherapy unit, taking on board all appropriate functional and medical constraints. Students were also asked to consider feedback from patients and staff about the limitations of the existing standard drip-stand design and ways in which it might be improved and personalised.

    A shortlist of six students were invited to present their proposals to a panel including patients and staff. The winning design was ‘Smile’ by Stefan Williams.  The second place design was ‘Curious’ by Maelys de la Ruee.

    The shortlisted proposals are being exhibited in Atrium 1, Guy’s Hospital until the end of December 2016. The Trust is considering the possibility of prototyping the winning design as part of its legacy programme.

About Futurecity 

Futurecity develops cultural visions for the urban realm. It creates the partnerships, research and projects that invigorate public space, and shape our cities for the future. Founded by Mark Davy in 2007, Futurecity works internationally to connect city makers with artists, curators, galleries and cultural institutions. From commissioning major public art works to delivering cultural programmes for entire districts, Futurecity operates between art and other disciplines, whether science, architecture or technology. As curators delivering cultural projects from inception to completion, Futurecity is interested in championing artists who are changing the way culture is presented in an urban context. Visit the Futurecity website at: futurecity.co.uk.

(Photos top to bottom: Genius Loci by Gitta Gschwendtner, photography (c) Ron Bambridge, courtesy of Futurecity. The Mountain by Karel Martens, photography (c) Nick Turner, courtesy of Pentagram. Radiance by Angela Bulloch, photography (c) Ron Bambridge, courtesy of Futurecity.)