The CW+ art collection at our hospitals includes over 2,000 works. But the curation and growth of the collection is only one side. One essential part of providing artworks to the Trust is ensuring that each work is installed securely and professionally; meaning the work is safe and secure from theft and damage, and that visitors to the hospital can safely view the artworks.
For this, we hire art technicians. Usually coming from a creative backgrounds themselves, our technicians enable us to continue to uphold our renowned collection, for all to enjoy.
We spoke to Mark Melvin, a technician who has been hanging and installing works for us for several years, about his experiences as an Art Technician within a hospital environment.
Hi Mark! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you ended up working with CW+.
I’m Mark Melvin, an Artist and freelance Art Technician. I began working with CW+ through a colleague who already worked with the Trust. He knew that I had experience working in hospital settings as a technician, and thought I would be a good fit for the work involved.
How did you become an Art Technician? And do you do other work as well?
I started working freelance as an Art Technician shortly after I finished my Masters at Central Saint Martins. As a practising artist, you have to find ways to finance a studio, materials etc., and it seemed like a good way of doing so. I began working at Phillips de Pury auction house (very much learning on the job) and then progressed from there.
As an artist, I am represented by Yoko Uhoda Gallery in Belgium and have had several solo and group exhibitions internationally to date. I have worked in the Huis Marseille, Zabludowicz, Uhoda, and Mercury Prize Collections. My most recent work is text-based, taking the form of neon installation, kinetic sculpture and drawing. I also collaborate with my brother Adam Melvin, who is a composer, on multimedia and cross-disciplinary projects.
What does a standard day at the hospital involve?
There isn’t really a typical day in a hospital, as it’s an environment that’s always in a state of flux. The work I carry out can be very different from day to day. The majority of the work involves installing art from the collection in a variety of settings around the hospital. One moment I could be asked to install an exhibition in an atrium, the next, a series of works in a patient’s room.
Sounds interesting! So what is one of the more of the unusual experiences you’ve had?
One day I was asked to mount some staffs in the chapel and a patient mistook me for a priest as I was wearing a round-necked black shirt!
Would you say you’ve learnt anything in particular about the hospital environment from working here?
I’ve learnt that CW+ really do provide the staff and patients with a wonderful collection of artworks unlike any you would normally see in a hospital. Whilst I am installing works throughout the building, the comments come thick and fast from those using the hospital praising the works on show.
What other locations/installs do you work on?
I work for the Hayward Gallery, a variety of commercial galleries in Mayfair, and for several private collections and clients.
Do you have a favourite install that you’ve worked on?
I was asked recently by Hauser and Wirth to work with the artist Guillermo Kuitca, painting a site-specific mural for the dining room of the Fife Arms Hotel in Braemar, Scotland. I returned last year for my 40th birthday to the hotel and was able to enjoy the work, among the other great works they have on display. It was really quite a proud moment as it was the result of over a month’s work of labour, and is really quite impressive when you see it in the flesh.
What advice would you give someone looking to get into a similar field?
As an artist, working as a technician is a great way to develop skills and finance your practice. Just make sure you keep making your work and try to maintain a good balance between work and your art practice.
Thanks for speaking to us Mark! And one final question, where can we follow/see more of what you do?