Mind the Gap’ was a collaborative commission with textile designer Lorna Bircham to research, design and produce a new hospital gown concept. The hospital gown is primarily regarded as a garment that causes instant anonymity and represents institutional power over the individual. Recent user surveys reveal a range of concerns regarding personal vulnerability and loss of identity, as well worries about reduced levels of hygiene. Practical issues regarding laundry and repair have been highlighted in response to reports of the rise of MRSA and other viruses within hospital environs. After evaluating statistics regarding the pros and cons of single use versus reusable gowns, we used a high grade nonwoven polyester fabric which could be simply and cheaply manufactured using sonic welding. The first prototype gown was made from a 100% recyclable fabric, and was exhibited in ‘Ever and Again’. The gown will be redesigned in collaboration with Rebecca Earley in 2008 and shown in an exhibition curated by Marie O’Mahony, at IFAI in the US in October 2008, (www.ifai.com).
This project was funded by CCAD and the Central Middlesex Hospital, who are currently undergoing extensive regenerative building work and are involved with the Art in Healthcare programme. As lead artist for the new Central Middlesex Hospital between 2001 – 2006, I co-developed an art strategy - ‘20:20: Twenty projects, a vision for healing in the city’ - identifying twenty arts commissions to be integrated into the new building. I have also been involved as an artist with 2 other projects at the hospital. ‘Bloom’ was a photo-digital print series for the examination and waiting areas in the Sexual Health Department, and ‘Now and Then’ was a collaborative commission with architect Julia Dwyer. This work has lead to a new commission (2007) developing a similar art strategy for North Middlesex hospital (Bougyues).