New Zealand – light,colour and the healthcare environment.


Just before a recent trip to New Zealand, I was looking at the impact of art in the healthcare environment in the UK. I had found a website- Paintings in hospitals (  which gave information about the effects of art on staff and patients, also that continued research was being performed.

Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 09.35.38.png

This information had been inspiring to me, but whilst in Auckland, I had the time to discuss this with other mental health staff. There is a common acknowledgement with these colleagues that mental health care will be put in to an evolutionary process over time. We have a intuitive feeling that this will come about through new directions in healthcare… stepping away from the medical models more and more, as new understandings dawn.

Part of this evolution will be the understanding of the environments in which we live… on a deeper level than we understand at this point in time. In discussion with my colleagues the feeling is very positive towards art and design, not just entering the arena in art therapy, but in the architecture, ward environment and structure of the client rooms.

There is an openness to something new… with the team members I talked to in Auckland and within such projects as Paintings in hospitals in the UK.

My feelings about this are inspired by the visual stimulus we experience from colour and light. As in this photograph taken from the bottom of an artists sink.


Artist Katherine Hildern placed this photograph on her website, one of her students took the photograph of paint that had flowed from brushes into the bottom of the sink. It’s a beautiful photograph of flowing colour. It’s a photograph I put into an essay about other peoples work and it stays with me. Beyond everyone else’s metalwork of 3D genius this is the image that always stays with me and “I love”. I would have this with me in my environment and it would not be ignored, or forgot about. AND I don’t really know why?

Why does this melding of colour move me, why does the shift in tones of blue and white, the added primary colours of yellow, red and green make it feel like a personal attraction to the photograph of colour. I have had this feeling before with abstract colours.. but I do know that I feel a certain sense of joy from this. And the reason behind it is not at all clear.

Whilst in New Zealand, I noticed something I had also noticed in India in 2008. The population lives in more sunlight, the light in which people live seems to effect their experience of colour. I don’t think that this is a new insight, we are aware that Indian and eastern colour fashions tend to be brighter overall. But the population of New Zealand, with its mix of caucasian people has also adopted the colour tones of a brighter more greener lush, landscape into their decor and lifestyle – thats what I felt I noticed more on this trip.

Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 10.36.35

New Zealanders older population enjoying the social scene.. granted its not normal attire..

The earthy colours of the UK and particularly the peak district’s influence on how we tend to “demure” colour in Sheffield, seemed to be very clear. We adopt our environments colours, without noticing it and mostly we conform to that norm.

Photographs of the colours of a country aren’t really evidence of the difference in light, but I think we all know the general differences.



My interest in colour stems from my experiences as described above re: Katherine Hilderns’s photograph of colours in the sink. My interest in enamels stems from that emotional intuitive joy that again is not something I can put into words.

In past assignments I have looked and considered the work of James Tyrell and Liz West and their use of colour to impact the spectator. I plan to revisit these people and review their ongoing work, whilst considering the impact that this research could have for the mental health teams I have contact with, and how my practice with enamel work could engage in this process.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s