Our Common Humanity

Royal Edinburgh Hospital

Created by Juli Bolaños-Durman, “Our Common Humanity” was created in collaboration with patients at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.

Patients took part in workshops and those interactions informed the development and outcome of the final piece. It is a play of glass and light, shaped by community engagement with art, and highlights the very basic human need of connection.

Every glass piece is brought to life by deconstructing discarded glass, which has been collected and donated by the Royal Edinburgh Hospital Community. Juli then reconfigured the elements through play and embellished the decadent layers using local heritage hand-cutting techniques. Playing with light brings the beautiful shadows to life whilst manifesting the magic of a second chance. In the end, each piece is a poetic act of rebellion; a resilient rebel that embodies a symbol of hope.

It was commissioned by NHS Lothian Charity for The Royal Edinburgh Hospital. The artwork was loaned to the Scottish Parliament while the hospital underwent refurbishment and was installed at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, Royal Edinburgh Building for World Mental Health Day on 10 October 2023. It is Juli’s largest installation to date, in partnership with GRAS Architects.

My grandad is currently receiving treatment at Royal Edinburgh Hospital, and has been there since January. Visiting him daily without much visible progress has taken a big toll on my grandma, and on my mum and me, who visit as often as we can given we don’t live in Edinburgh.

“On my way to visit Grandad on Saturday, I mentioned to my mum that somewhere in the complex, there was a piece of art I wanted to find, as I had just written a piece about the artist. She instantly asked if it was the displays of glass in the lightboxes, which she and my grandma had stopped to admire the day before. They were delighted to have something new to distract themselves and break up the daily grind of hospital visits. My grandad, who is very reluctant to leave his ward, even ventured out to see your work, which is the furthest he’s ventured for some time now.’

Visitor and Family Member, Royal Edinburgh Hospital

Tonic Arts enhances healthcare environments and enriches the patient experience through a programme of art and design commissions, developed with patient and staff engagement and collaboration.