A Portrait of East Lothian © Simon Crofts & Sylwia Kowalczyk, photo by cro+kow

28 June, 2024

NHS Lothian Charity: Tonic Arts wins gold in prestigious design awards for pioneering art and design commission at East Lothian Community Hospital

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NHS Lothian Charity’s Tonic Arts Programme is delighted to have received a gold award win at the 2024 Scottish Design Awards. The team won the top prize in the Design for Good category for their holistic and pioneering art and environment strategy at East Lothian Community Hospital in Haddington.

The ceremony was held on 27 June at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Glasgow, with awards handed out across 34 categories celebrating the exceptional talent and innovative approach that exists within the Scottish design industry.

Susan Grant, Tonic Arts Manager, said:

We’re incredibly proud to be recognised at the Scottish Design Awards for our art and design programme at East Lothian Community Hospital. This award highlights the power of creativity to transform healthcare environments into healing spaces. It is also a good reminder that good design is much more than decoration. Well-crafted art and design can uplift spirits, reduce stress, and even improve recovery times. We’re thrilled to see the positive impact this is having on patients and staff alike.”

In realising this highly crafted programme of commissions, NHS Lothian Charity’s Tonic Arts team and Round Table Projects worked with leading creatives to develop a people-centred healthcare environment where nature-based enhancement is instrumental in improving the physical and mental wellbeing of patients, staff and visitors.

The programme permeates the hospital building and grounds with art and design that draws upon the unique landscape and stories of East Lothian, providing distracting focal points and creating a restorative and calming environment for difficult times. Informed by research confirming the powerful impact of nature-based design, the programme employed a diversity of designers and media, curated as a holistic entity.

From hanging atrium installations to bespoke physiotherapy structures, from outdoor sculptures to photographic landscape works, the result is an environment that supports patients through their healthcare journey in beautifully crafted moments which connect the hospital with the natural world.

Collaboration was central to the programme, with the strategy being developed following public consultation and a team of patients, community members and staff came together to select designers and reviewed design stages. Designers worked with staff and community groups throughout, exploring ideas and directing the form the works would take.

Evoking nature through contemporary art and design, the works take viewers out of the clinical space – sometimes confined and detached from the outside world – and contribute to their positive healing, recovery, and a more patient-centred approach to healthcare.

Feedback from patients and staff has also been positive. Anne Bisset, a patient representative on the commissioning team, is one of many patients and visitors who appreciate the escape that art provides:

Being able to look at a piece of artwork is a respite from everything else.”

NHS Lothian Senior Capital Project Manager, Miriam Anderson sums it up perfectly:

It just makes you smile. It’s a happy place.”

To find out more about our art and environment strategy at East Lothian Community Hospital.

Banner image: photo by cro+kow