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Relief in Shadow Play

Funded by Barts Charity and commissioned through Vital Arts for Barts Health NHS Trust, this project at Mile End Hospital takes the form of an outdoor mural and indoor murals in conjunction with wall-based sculptures across the Max Caplin Unit which specialises in respiratory conditions. Influenced by the 19th Century woodblock prints of Japanese artist Hiroshige Utagawa of hand shadow puppets the project revolves around the art of shadowgraphy using imaginary shapes cast from abstracted hands as a jumping off point for larger abstracted narrative scenes. These include mundane, everyday scenes which become exaggerated through this transformative process. At the core of shadow play is a sense of humour and imagination and this is the joyful tone that I wanted the work to convey in an environment that can often be uncomfortable for some. Hospitals by nature can be perceived as spaces of sterility but so often the need for touch or haptic interaction is essential both as an ethos and a physical reality of comfort and healthcare. This has been emphasised over the period we have faced in recent years with Covid where visitation and contact was somewhat limited within the hospital environment so I wanted the reference to hands and thinking about the playful physicality of this activity of shadow play to be a potential relief or antidote to this. 

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