Chelsea and Westminster Hospital established its Arts Programme in 1993 when the building first opened.
Since then, CW+ has commissioned numerous artworks and installations, and display a collection of over 2000 pieces. Perhaps two of the most notable commissions revolve around a similar theme: the strength, resilience, compassion and caring demeanour of the rhinoceros. Commissioned a decade apart, these two works by Jonathan Delafield Cook and Andy Council have remained strong symbols of the hospital, and echo the wonderful nature of staff and patients at Chelsea and Westminster.
During the summer of 1995, James Scott (the founder of the Arts Project at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and now retired consultant orthopaedic surgeon) was contacted by the Royal College of Art. One of their students, Jonathan Delafield Cook, had included in his diploma show a life-size charcoal drawing of an eastern black rhinoceros called Rosie, who was the first of her kind to have been reared at London Zoo.
The drawing had been purchased for a patron of the charity Tusk. The charity’s principal aim was to help this endangered species, of which there remained only 470 in the wild. The owner of the drawing was unable to accommodate the large drawing at that time, and so asked if James Scott could display her in the hospital. Rosie was hugely popular and, when returned to the owner, the Arts Project commissioned Jonathan Delafield Cook to draw her partner, Jos, who weighs a ton and was born in captivity in Czechoslovakia in 1989. He took Rosie’s place about twelve months later, and remains on the wall at the front of the hospital.
Andy Council is a Bristol based artist, illustrator and muralist. His work involves creating composite beasts of architectural landmarks and other recognisable elements of a town or city that have a level of importance to locals.
In 2015, we commissioned Andy Council to produce bespoke artwork on the exterior walls of the CW+ MediCinema at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. Andy consulted with patients for their input on which animals to feature and which local landmarks they would be made up of. The rhino was chosen as a result of the popularity of Jonathan Delafield Cook’s Jos, depicting the same creature. Whilst they are renowned for their strength, rhinos also embody vulnerability due to their endangered status, and the artist chose to depict this more vulnerable, caring side of a mother rhino with her baby.
Mother and Baby Rhino is one of two designs that Andy Council has created for the CW+ MediCinema. The other, Fox, is located on the opposite side of the building and can be viewed from the third floor.