Three North East youngsters are to see their imaginative artwork replicated in glass and permanently installed on the walls of the Great North Children’s Hospital at Newcastle Royal Victoria Infirmary on Thursday 24th May.
Scarlet Gregory, 11, from Denton Burn, Rebecca Jackson, 14, from Peterlee and Kirsty Coulson, 8, from Washington are amongst a number of children to have submitted their artwork over the past few years whilst patients at the RVI. Now, the lucky three have been invited to see their creative ideas displayed in the atrium of the Children’s Outpatients department at the new state of the art Great North Children’s Hospital.
The National Glass Centre in Sunderland was commissioned by the Newcastle Healthcare Charity to produce a collection of nine glass panels based on children’s drawings to form Phase 1 in the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s vision of creating a welcoming and unintimidating environment for children, teenagers, their families and carers – a far cry from the old, traditional image of hospital.
Commenting today, Mr Chris Blade MA (RCA), Senior Manager, Enterprise, at the National Glass Centre said:
“I was delighted to accept the commission from the Great North Children’s Hospital and had no hesitation in suggesting one of our highly experienced artists working at the Centre, Dr Kathryn Wightman, as someone whose innovative skills and techniques were perfect for the job.”
Kathryn, from Chapel House in Newcastle and ex-pupil of Walbottle Campus Technology College, is a graduate of the University of Sunderland and won ‘best newcomer’ in the Journal Cultural Awards in 2007 and North East finalist in the Shell Young Entrepreneur of the Year Competition. She also won the Creative Industries Category in the Sunderland Blue Print Competition. She recently gained her PhD from Sunderland University, funded by the Arts Humanities Research Council.
Speaking today, Kathryn, 28, explained the process of transforming the children’s artwork into glass:
“I began planning the panels at the end of last year and it took around eight weeks to physically manufacture them using a combination of water-jet technology and screen printing – quite challenging processes when applied to the material of glass and ones in which Sunderland University is at the forefront of research. Each panel is made up of four layers of glass, making it 12mm thick. The base layer is a continuous sheet of glass, the middle two layers are essentially a complete glass jigsaw which was cut out on the water-jet cutter and the top layer contains the screen printed details such as the text or facial expressions of the people in the drawings. Each panel underwent a total of five kiln firings from start to finish.”
Fast gaining a reputation as an internationally renowned glass artist, Kathryn is leaving the North East next week to start a new academic career in New Zealand as Glass Tutor at Wanganui Universal College of Learning.
At a ceremony at the hospital on Thursday 24th May, Sir Leonard Fenwick CBE, Chief Executive of the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust will officially thank Dr Wightman in the presence of members of the Newcastle Healthcare Charity Board of Trustees and senior management of the National Glass Centre.