Hospital showcases southern artworks

Support for the arts . . . Mercy Hospital chief executive Richard Whitney and Poems in the Waiting Room co-ordinator Ruth Arnison admire art works by Allie Simpson, displayed on the hospital's new "Art Wall". PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD

Mercy Hospital is stepping up its support for the arts with the development of an “art wall” to showcase the work of southern artists.

The hospital is also sponsoring Ruth Arnison’s Poems in the Waiting Room project for the second year, to the tune of $5000.

Ms Arnison was delighted with the support from Mercy Hospital, saying it would secure Poems in the Waiting Room for the next year and enable her to get thousands of poetry cards printed and distributed across New Zealand.

“The idea of Poems in the Waiting Room is to provide opportunities for distraction, enjoyment, and reflection in bite-sized pieces, at times of possible anxiety or uncertainty,” Ms Arnison said.

The Poems in the Waiting Room project was started 11 years ago, and initially distributed poetry cards to Dunedin medical practices.

“The concept was in response to people having time in a waiting room, but being faced with nothing but old magazines.

“The poetry cards are something people can take home with them, or pass on to spread the joy.”

Poems in the Waiting Room now distributes 8500 cards to GP practices, prisons, rest-homes, hospitals and hospices across the country, four times a year.

A new poetry card will be distributed this month, featuring nine poems.

Ms Arnison is also behind the establishment of an art wall in the foyer at Mercy Hospital.

Each month, works by a different southern artist are showcased on the wall.

Mercy Hospital chief executive Richard Whitney said the revolving art exhibition would help to bring colour and distraction for patients and families at the hospital.

“We believe wellbeing is multifaceted, and art has a place in that,” he said.

Mercy Hospital had its own “subtly growing” art collection, with new art purchases usually happening in support of fundraising initiatives.

“We like to have quality local art on our walls,” Mr Whitney said.