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Art and Photography at the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital

BY Boon Koh
Published 3 May 2010

A hospital is not normally the place you would imagine featuring art installations and photography exhibitions, but this is exactly what has happened at the Chelsea & Westminster hospital. The Hospital Arts charity has been commissioning space on the ground and first floors of the hospital to artists that work with the charity, as well as open pieces by local photographers and artists.

However, this seemingly far fetched idea may well turn out to be quite an interesting one, as explained by John Sargent, who currently hosts a photography exhibition on the ground floor of the hospital. “Photography is often exhibited in galleries or bespoke commercial spaces where it becomes really difficult for it to be seen and appreciated by the general public. It’s a lot more fun to be able to display my work in a public space like a hospital, where I can feel it making a difference to people’s lives as they walk past while visiting loved ones.”

The Chelsea & Westminster hospital also gives off an air of…something that is not quite a hospital. Spaces are open and airy, artwork and exhibitions are almost everywhere, and the cafe on the ground floor is incredibly inviting. It can be argued that until you actually enter a ward or reception area that this place does not feel like a hospital at all. Visitors to Chelsea & Westminster Hospital are constantly surprised by how ironically hospitable the place is.

The ground floor space in the hospital is allocated for fortnightly lots to artists who submit samples of their work to charity, and 25% of all sale proceeds go towards helping the hospital. “It’s all for a good cause” John Sargent added, “and because it’s not in a gallery, photographers are not giving away 50% of their proceeds to the landlord or gallery owner. All of a sudden, I’m able to price my photographs at a much lower and affordable price that is reasonable to everyday folk, and help the charity at the same time. It’s a win-win situation.”

John is currently exhibiting his travel photography, “Never Stop Exploring”, from trips across Europe and Asia on the ground floor of the hospital, conveniently situated next to the cafe seating area. Small prints are also available for £8 for those who wish to help the charity but would rather not buy a large print. The exhibition is running until the 7th of May. Be sure to catch a glimpse if you can!

Hospital Address:
The Chelsea & Westminster Hospital
369 Fulham Road
London, SW10 9NH

How to get there: Bus 14 or 414 from South Kensington tube station (5 minutes),  bus 211, 14, 414 from Fulham Broadway tube station (5 minutes)

To view more of John’s extensive photography portfolio and find out more about his passion, please visit www.johnsargent.com.