OH MY GOSH, YOU’RE WELLCOME…KITTEN

A baby rhino in every children’s mental health ward, obviously.

Rooms with lakes, mountains, and a Hogwarts library.

Nurses with big ears, buckets of empathy and Netflix accounts.

The best beds from John Lewis, orchids and walls that smell of French soap.

What happens if children with significant mental health challenges…

  • create the boundaries for making art?
  • share their wellbeing wants and needs?
  • become professional designers?

For the last six months I’ve been supporting young people from Great Ormond Street Hospital’s mental health ward to do just that, as part of my new project OH MY GOSH, YOU’RE WELLCOME… KITTEN. 14 young people and lots of nurses have worked with me to explore what kind of environments would make them feel more positive, less stressed and aid them on their journey. It’s been emotional, really emotional. Maybe one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

Turning a currently empty ward at the hospital into an art and design studio, we met weekly as well as daily during school holidays.

Using cardboard, clay, performance, soap, tin foil, the nurse’s bodies, orchids, sheepskin and a generous helping of silliness we explored questions like:

  • What rooms you would have in the perfect ward? (they imagined 72 of them, including a baby rhino room!)
  • What your perfect bedroom would be like? (lots of dog beds, with dogs)
  • What the view out of your window would be? (Iguanas, water, mountains and much more)

This process of art making, workshops and research trips is now complete and is being transformed into a play-based installation for the Wellcome Collection’s new 10 year exhibition ‘Being Human’, which opens on September 5th 2019.

I’ve been collaborating on this project with process led architect, Ishbel (MUF Architecture/Art) and social practice curator Caroline (GOSH Arts) in what has been incredibly inspiring, at times painful but also truly transformative for us all.

The show is on for the next 10 years, so you’ve got no excuse not to see it.

This project has been funded by The Wellcome Collection, Paul Hamlyn Foundation and GOSH Arts.