Artwork goes on display at The Royal Edinburgh Hospital
Following its showcase at the Scottish Parliament earlier in 2023, the glass art installation ‘Our Common Humanity’ has moved to permanent display at The Royal Edinburgh Hospital to mark World Mental Health Day (10 October).
Created by artist Juli Bolaños-Durman, ‘Our Common Humanity’ was commissioned by Tonic Arts, NHS Lothian Charity’s Arts in Health programme. It is one of over 60 pieces of art and design it has commissioned for healthcare settings across Edinburgh and Lothians since 2015.
These settings are often clinical environments, and Tonic Arts works with artists to create work that will soften the spaces and make them more welcoming and calming for visitors, staff and patients. Our Common Humanity is showing in the reception area of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital and represents the community of the mental health hospital. It tells a story and reflects a gathering of unique individuals, all with their own challenges and joyful quirks. It is hoped that the piece will be a talking point that will make people’s time in hospital better.
The work was developed from art workshops run by Juli Bolaños-Durman and Tonic Arts’ partner organisation Artlink with psychiatric patients at The Royal Edinburgh Hospital. The patients’ need for connection in the everyday, and the importance of being held, supported, embraced and given a second chance, were highlighted.
Juli Bolaños-Durman is an award-winning Costa Rican glass artist and designer based in Scotland. She is known for revitalising waste material by applying various heritage cold-working processes, and her practice is driven by her concern for sustainability and her desire to give both people and objects second chances through her work.
Each element of the artwork is made from discarded glass, which was collected and donated by The Royal Edinburgh Hospital community. Using local heritage hand-cutting techniques, Juli has carefully deconstructed, embellished and reused each piece in the making of this intricate work, breathing new life into discarded objects. The final display is playfully lit to create magnificent shadows that bring the glass to life.
Juli Bolaños-Durman commented, “I want the work to be testimony to our ever-changing journey: powered by trials and errors, vulnerability and imperfection. Our daily interactions matter and each one of us has the power to make life better with the support of the people around us and the community we foster. We are part of a great community that supports one another – no matter where we come from, no matter what we have been through, which is why engaging with psychiatric patients at The Royal Edinburgh Hospital to make this piece was such an important part of my process.”
Susan Grant, Manager of Tonic Arts, noted, “There is a wealth of evidence and research surrounding the benefits of arts in healthcare settings and how the arts make people’s time in hospital better, including a reduction in the need for medication and length of stay, lessening anxiety and stress and increasing patient and staff well-being.”
Image: Juli Bolaños-Durman working on ‘Our Common Humanity’. Photo: Laura Meek.