A permanent commission and solo exhibition for Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum
Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum is located in the Royal Pump Rooms, which was used for the delivery of medical treatments, including hydrotherapy and physiotherapy, from its opening in 1814 to the mid-1990s. In 2010 I was invited to explore, as artist and curator, the building’s history from 1948, when it was transformed into an NHS treatment centre, until its closure.
Drawing on the personal stories of patients and staff, I produced a memory of the building and its former function, creating new work in response to the medical history collection at the Museum and the original decoration of the building’s interior. In reworking these objects, images and treatments, I investigated the contrasting experiences associated with medical treatments, including healing and fragility, pleasure and pain, comfort and fear. Newly commissioned works were exhibited alongside objects and photographs from the medical history collection.
In 2017 I was asked to create a permanent commission for the entrance foyer of the Royal Pump Rooms, which in addition to the Art Gallery and Museum houses the Library, Café and Visitor Information Service. The work consists of two large scale vinyl installations; the first, on the exterior glazing, references a decorative Victorian tile that once adorned the treatment rooms. The pattern is re-worked in shades of blue to echo the importance of water to the site’s history. The second, on the walls of the entrance foyer, subtly reveals, in white gloss vinyl on matt white acrylic paint, a pattern from the Hammam (Turkish bath). An artist’s multiple was also produced to celebrate the commission.
A PDF of Touch, an essay by Frances Lord, Curator and Art Consultant can be seen here: