THE SEAT OF HEALING
This sculpture, designed by Tony Crosse the hospital's healing
arts consultant, is made from a London plane tree. It was probably planted
in 1905 when the original Royal Naval hospital was built and was cut down in
1997 to make way for the Hydrotherapy Unit which opened in 1999.
The trunk, weighing approximately two and a half tons, was sliced into four inch wide planks which were then left to dry naturally for four months before being shaped, jointed, sanded, assembled and lacquered.
large London Plane tree was felled on the hospital site as part of ongoing
redevelopment, and I decided to use this ‘on-site’ material as a way of
illustrating the broader aspect of ‘healing’ the environment through
idea of a ‘giant’ chair-sculpture was appropriate for both the Reception
area and the amount and size of timber available. The ‘ordinariness’ of the
art object would encourage public interaction without the self-consciousness
that can sometimes accompany the viewing of
‘art’. I drew up plans and constructed a full-scale cardboard model,
then invited local timber and joinery firms to transport the trunk, cut and
treat the wood, and assemble the chair free of charge as an active contribution
to the Programme. The chair was waxed and polished and a hand-made guest-book
provided for people to record their thoughts.
of the Impact of the Work
The chair-sculpture had a significant impact on people, provoking interest and delight in its origin and form:
I remember the plane
tree with affection…
the wood has a very calming effect… I sat in the chair and laughed…
appeared in local newspapers. A local sports club asked to ‘borrow’ it for a
charity event in exchange for a substantial donation. It was featured at the end
of local television news as their ‘good news’ item.
hoped for positive feedback as my own response to sitting in the chair had been
joyous, and I was uplifted and moved by some of the inscriptions:
to slow you down, appreciate basics… I’d forgotten what it was to be a
child… felt a little smile on my face after a tragic loss of a nephew…
The Guest-book evidences how the sculpture’s stillness, size and
strength, its sense of durability and reliability, have been a source of
enjoyment and comfort, and I now plan to extend the project by ‘lending’ the
chair to other hospitals/institutions – establishing connections across the
healing arts community. I couldn’t agree more with E.D.
age 71 with arthritic bones [who]
thinks art may do you good.)
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