“Most adults and children who enter a hospital, often accompanied by the scream of an ambulance siren, feel anxious. Whether they are relatives of someone already inside the building, or patients bracing themselves before undergoing treatment, these people can truly be described as vulnerable. They deserve something far better than a stark and bewildering medical environment, unalleviated by images of the world outside. That is why the CW+ arts programme at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital must be applauded for providing such a refreshing alternative.”
Richard Cork, Art Historian and Critic and contributing author in The Healing Arts 

In June 2019, we launched our new book at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, celebrating our pioneering arts and design programme which we have been running for over 25 years. By bringing music, performance and the visual arts into the hospital, our art and design programme has created an extraordinary environment and transformed the experience of countless patients, visitors and members of staff.

The Healing Arts is a collection of essays, which delve into the story of the arts at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, from the installation of daring sculpture before the hospital opened its doors, to the exciting future of the programme. It discusses the impact of our arts programme on patients’ recovery, in some cases shortening their stay or reducing their need for pain medication. From drawing to music to creative digital technology, this volume looks at how integrating the arts into the day-to-day life of the hospital has changed its patients’ experience of care.

Built in 1993, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital was the first UK hospital to lay an arts and design manifesto into its very foundations. Local artists donated works which started the collection including Patrick Heron, Allen Jones and Eduardo Paolozzi. The collection and programme, which is entirely funded by our generous supporters, has since grown and currently has over 2,000 pieces including its latest commission by renowned artist Isaac Julien CBE. It has also grown to be an evidence based programme of work including all aspects of art and design, which is delivered to support the physical, mental and emotional experience and recovery of patients.

Our programme is made up of three different areas of work. ‘Arts for All’ is our performance and participation programme which reaches 1.5 million people every year including patients, visitors and staff; through live performances, at bedsides, in public spaces and participatory workshops. The ‘Design and Environment’ programme transforms and enhances clinical spaces with bespoke lighting, acoustics, aesthetics and temperature – all of which, research shows, have a significant effect on patients. Finally, the ‘Future Hospital’ is identifying, implementing and evaluating the latest digital and virtual technology to benefit patients. Examples include producing bespoke content for virtual reality technology to distract patients, creating soundscapes, digital moving artworks, wearable technologies, and robotic companion pets.

Trystan Hawkins, CW+ Arts Director, commented: “The Healing Arts celebrates the legacy of the arts programme founders at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, demonstrating how their vision allows us to continue to innovate by commissioning ambitious, bold and daring contemporary art and design that has profoundly positive impacts on patients, staff and visitors. We are incredibly grateful to our community of supporters, who make our work possible.”

The Healing Arts is published by Unicorn Publishing Group and was 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.”


  • Mr James Scott is the founder of the Arts Project at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and a retired consultant orthopaedic surgeon.
  • Richard Cork is the author of The Healing Presence of Art, which provides an in-depth look at the history of art in healthcare settings.
  • Dr Zoe Penn is the Medical Director at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
  • Dr Andrew Hall is a musician and artist, and works as Music and Sound Research Lead for CW+ at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
  • Lewis Khan is the Photographer in Residence at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
  • Anouk Mercier is the Drawer in Residence at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.
  • David Ferry is an artist and former Chairman of the Chelsea Arts Club.
  • Grace Saull is the Visual Arts Manager at CW+.
overhead photo of launch
man and woman holding arts book at launch
woman holding book at arts launch

Learn more about our Art and Design Programme by watching our short film below and by clicking here.