The Healing Arts Book

Since 1993, our Art and Design Programme has created an extraordinary environment for patients, visitors and members of staff by bringing music, performance and the visual arts into the hospital setting. Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, we have had to find alternative ways to run this programme, leading us to launch  our Arts for All: Virtual Connections Programme.

In June 2019, we were delighted to release our very own published book, The Healing Arts. This volume reflected on the last 25 years of the Arts Programme, looking at how integrating the arts into the day-to-day life of the hospital has changed patient experience of care, by delving into some of our most ground-breaking projects and commissions, and providing personal interviews with key contributors to our Art and Design Programme, including James Scott, consultant orthopaedic surgeon and founder of the arts project at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

The Healing Arts was kindly sponsored by Philip Hoffman and The Fine Art Group. Philip says “Art serves many purposes, often to communicate, to emote, to create a sense of beauty or to motivate; but within the walls of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital it plays another vital role. Art goes above and beyond, and instead becomes a tool for healing.”

Albert Irvin Hollywood Archive Photo
Albert Irvin Hollywood Archive Photo
Performing Arts Archive Photo
Performing Arts Archive Photo

This week we are celebrating the one year anniversary of the launch of our book. Since The Healing Arts was published, we have continued to bring new installations, innovations, artists and projects to our hospitals, some of which are included in our weekly blog posts!

As a way of sharing our celebrations, some excerpts from a chapter by our Music and Sound Research Consultant, Andrew Hall.

“As I was guided around the hospital in those early days I also began to realise the extent to which recorded sound and music featured in the design of the hospital’s newest spaces: the recently completed Emergency Department boasted a vast sound system installed in almost every waiting area and treatment room, and the Edgar Horne ward (one of the five wards that focuses on the care of older patients) also featured a newly installed speaker system that could stream a huge variety of internet radio stations to different bays and side rooms.

Later in my time with CW+ I would help to install a sound system in the entry corridor for the Intensive Care Unit, a place where many visitors and family members of those on the unit would wait: I will not quickly forget the sense of peace created by the combination of the fifth-floor views across West London and the steady calmness of slow piano movements by Mozart, Clementi and Haydn.”

Andy with patient
Andrew Hall at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital

“…working at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital has transformed me as a musician. I arrived with grand designs and aspirations, fully believing that my compositional or technological training would offer a solution to the great challenges of music in healthcare.

I now realise that these aspirations were probably as much about my own desire for affirmation as they were about helping patients. The hospital environment does not require a composer, not when a decent radio will do the job. But it does still require creative thinking: how can we most effectively use music and sound interventions to empower patients, and return to them a sense of control which can be so quickly lost in acute settings? How can new music technology enable participation for patients whose symptoms may leave them excluded from traditional participatory activities?

These are the kind of questions I now focus on in my work at Chelsea and Westminster, and with the generosity and warmth of its staff, and the enormous courage of its patients, it is impossible not to feel a great deal of excitement for the future role of music in this unique and inspiring hospital.”

The Healing Arts book is available to purchase from Unicorn Publishing and Amazon here. All proceeds go back into our Art and Design Programme. Alternatively, you can purchase a copy by emailing

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