Guy's and St Thomas's Charity

A place where the arts are costed into the infrastructure and capital budgets! I was most fortunate to meet with David Jones and Karen Sarkissian at Guy's Hospital in London. David is the E.D of the Charity and Karen the Director of Art and Heritage. Given the history of both the Guy's and St. Thomas hospitals, retaining and building on their heritage is core business for the Charity. The Charity funds multiple cutting edge projects and contributes to education and research. I was keen to gain an understanding about how the arts are incorporated in new capital projects and Karen very generously showed me a number of specific installation commissions and exhibitions they have supported over the past few years, including a beautiful glass installation they incorporated in the rebuild of the counselling/ bereavement area.

They have an extensive performing arts program including resident musicians who provide regular weekly lunchtime recitals, in addition to a writer in residence who works with patients, all supported by the Charity. The Guy's and St Thomas' Charity also supports education and research and is currently providing 4.5M in funding the Modernisation Initiative End of Life Care project for Lambeth and Southwark. This project focuses on establishing partnerships, evaluating the model of care and developing a range of innovative pilot projects (with a special focus on dementia) to ensure dignified death in place of choice for older patients. Of course, I was very interested in this and hope to find out more when I visit with the Director later this week. Follow the link for more information.

An installation funded by the Charity (and Friend's of Guy's Hospital), was one of the first things I noticed as I walked into the Guy's Hospital complex from tube station. It is a wonderful bronze statue of poet John Keats, who trained as a "surgeon-apothecary" at Guy's Hospital in 1815-16. The thing I love, is that this piece isn't just a statue, but a true installation, that invites you to interact. Keats is just sitting there waiting for you to join him on the bench!, a temptation I had to resist as someone had beaten me to it!

I did get to talk to a living poet later in the day though. After leaving Guy's I was a bit thirsty (and it was time for dinner), so headed down to a pub in King's Cross, where I met Finn, a modern day 'angry Irish balladeer", who provided me with an evening of interesting conversation and insight into his view of contemporary Irish attitudes to death and dying. A very educating day, all in all!

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