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World Health Day: Promoting Health & Wellbeing in the Arts

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This World Health Day, we’re celebrating the benefits of the arts on our health and wellbeing.

The 7th April marks the World Health Organisation’s World Health Day, an annual celebration bringing attention to a different area of health each year. 2021’s focus is on Building a fairer, healthier world for everyone – so we’ve decided to round up a few organisations that work to promote health and wellbeing for all of us through art and design. 

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Wellcome Collection and Library, London
Situated in Euston, the Wellcome Collection is a free museum researching and changing how we think about health. Their constant innovative exhibitions, rich historical and scientific collections, and diverse library encourage everyone to engage with health creatively. Their library and archives preserve everything from historical manuscripts and recipe books, to contemporary collections of zines and artists’ books. Set to reopen on 18th May, we can’t wait to jump right back into seeing Wellcome’s ground-breaking work across health, science and art. 


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Hospital Rooms, UK-wide
Hospital Rooms is a charity transforming inpatient mental health care units with art. Working in partnership with mental health wards across the UK as well as critically-acclaimed artists and designers, the charity commissions artworks to brighten these spaces that for many can feel clinical, impersonal and shut off from the rest of the world. Founded by artist Tim A Shaw and curator Niamh White, the organisation have worked with artists such as Nick Knight, Bob & Roberta Smith, Anish Kapoor and many more, to let contemporary artwork into mental healthcare environments. During lockdown, Hospital Rooms have curated a range of arts activities to try out at home, as well as their Digital Art School – offering a programme of free to access, live workshops. 

The Design Museum, London
The Design Museum in Kensington, London, exhibits design from fashion to furniture, travel to architecture, and everything in between. The Museum holds varying exhibitions covering timelines of design practice and invention, or the newest innovations – and at the core of this is human experience. The Design Museum’s current programme of events inspires questions such as, how can design relate to empathy? – with the online symposium Empathy Revisited – or what is the role of care within the design industry? – with this panel talk with designers in residence


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Hospitalfield House, Scotland
A little further afield, Hospitalfield is a space to create, study and learn, from the beautiful setting of Arbroath, Angus.  Initially the site of a hospital in 1260, the house was much later remodelled into an early Arts & Crafts building in 1843 by owners Patrick Allan and Elizabeth Fraser ­– a couple who left the estate to a board of trustees, to support future artists and art education. Hospitalfield then reopened in the 1900s as an art school, and now provides a contemporary, multidisciplinary arts programme, as well as residencies and summer schools providing a space for learning and nurturing ideas. This year, Hospitalfield have been redesigning the house’s Victorian walled garden, and are opening a Garden Café which will celebrate the local food of Angus as well as home-grown produce right from the garden. 


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The Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester
Age-Friendly sociable craft workshops
– Meditation in Nature (via Zoom) 
Dementia Friendly Woodland Walk
GROW online 
A traditional and contemporary art gallery in the centre of Manchester, the Whitworth also has a focus on community engagement and improving wellbeing through creativity. Their Natural Cultural Health Service programme promotes interacting with nature to reduce stress, with regular events like Meditation in Nature (currently via Zoom), as well as a Dementia Friendly Woodland Walk through Whitworth Park on Tuesday 13th April. All events can be explored and booked through the NCHS page.