Friday, August 16, 2019

Aesthetic deficit

Recently I have been visiting hospital to undergo tests.  I have dreaded going back to the hospital after I spent so much time there some years ago when my mother was ill.  Now the horrid experience of being poked and prodded and not yet definitively diagnosed is mine - and in such thoroughly depressing surroundings.
Why are some hospitals so disgracefully devoid of anything visually comforting or uplifting?  It is bad enough for those of us who are temporarily unwell, but how awful for those who are over worked and under paid spending all their working days in these surroundings.  Because of financial shortages the places are not only far from uplifting, but generally give a strong impression of not being cared for.  Only the care of the staff towards the patients is generous.
At present I am unable to do much other than read distracting novels (I read Denise Mina's Conviction, and am working my way through Ngaio Marsh's Inspector Alleyn novels.)  So today I started distracting myself with thoughts about what kind of art I would like to see on hospital walls.
Work which is positive and pleasant in appearance would of course be desirable, but I think that I personally would want something that also engages curiosity and thought, just as I prefer to read novels which are well written.
Of course because everyone has different aesthetic taste, I can see why some hospitals go for still life paintings.  But the first example I thought of was something by the Mark Boyle family.
(image from here)
When I have encountered his work I was fascinated by the large reproductions of random parts of the world.  Such a size I think would tend to take minds off personal problems for a short time at least, rather than sitting in increasing dread anticipation.  But maybe this would be too close to the actual surroundings!  That especially so if the story behind the artwork is not explained.
I do think that size is important.  The image must demand attention to distract. 
(image from here)
Jeff Wall's photograph inspired by Hokusai does that, and even if you don't know the original there is so much to attract, intrigue, and amuse.  I also think that keeping the mind alert is a good idea, because as I have found, it is so easy simply to deal with the situation simply by shutting oneself down.
Perhaps large reproductions of Hokusai prints, or something similarly human, busy, and with a touch of humour. 

What do you think?