pARTicipate: ART


Artsparks was first established in 2008. Art workshops for young patients and their families/carers makes a real difference to their overall experience and hospital stay; which also supports the clinical teams and in turn reduces pressures across the ward. These sessions are so valuable and make such a difference to a child’s experience in hospital. Children often start workshops shy and unsure but leave with huge smiles and an enormous sense of achievement. Inevitably, this makes the whole ward a happier place.

Artsparks workshops are running weekly on the RUH Children’s ward led by our artists Edwina Bridgeman and Charlotte Stowell alternately. They take place both in the playroom and by patient bed sides. The intention is to allow children to enjoy the freedom to produce their own artwork in a safe, supportive and non-judgemental setting.

There have been more one to one sessions between the artist and individual patients during the last year and a great quality of beautiful artwork has been produced that patients and their parents/carers are very proud of.

Art therapy is an incredibly vital part of healing for children and can be so beneficial not only to provide them with a stimulus during their stay but as a way often of coping with the challenging psychological aspects of living with a chronic or overcoming an acute illness.  Art provides a creative outlet, which can aide recovery, stimulate discussion, and provide entertainment as well as general enrichment to children’s lives during a difficult time.  Art can provide children with a time to feel ‘normal’ and at ease often when navigating illness which for some of our children can be incredible scary and daunting, it makes hospital feel safer and provides something tactile and fun to pass the time.  For parents, their child’s time spent with our artist allows for some vital respite and some time to switch off a bit from the trauma of childhood illness – art can also be something they do together as another form of family healing.Matron and Trustwide Paediatric Lead

“I’m so impressed by the quality and dedication of the Artsparks service at the RUH. The service further supported my daughter’s recovery to health.” Parent

“Amazing! Makes a bad visit more enjoyable. My 4 year old loved every moment with friendly staff.” Parent 

“Helped massively to distract from pre-op nerves. Had loads of fun! Wants another op to be able to do it all again. Thank you!” Parent                                                   

Stitch in Time

Stitch in Time provides weekly creative art and reminiscence workshops on the RUH older patients units led by artist Charlotte Stowell. We are thrilled to be resuming this service for patients in May 2022.

Charlotte always tries to find out as much as possible about patients, so any creative activities can be tailored around the individual.

There have been noticeable benefits for some patients who work in a group, with more interaction and improved communication skills.

Having interesting activities taking place, such as art or music, gives a patient more incentive and motivation to get up and participate, which can help maintain mobility and independence.

We submitted an article to The Journal of Dementia Care on our ‘Stitch in Time’ Garden project with Charlotte Stowell and it was published in the March/April 2020 issue:

The art group helps with socialisation for patients who may otherwise be worried and withdrawn. Working together helps to make them feel connected to a group and they often interact with each other in a humorous or supportive way.

I never fail to be impressed at the skills and ideas that are drawn out of patients during the session and at how individual contributions come together in one of the themed projects.

There is often a very informal and joyful atmosphere in the room and patients who stay longer remember and look forward to the next session.” RUH Occupational Therapist

Stitch in Time was set up as part of Art at the Heart’s participatory project strand in 2012, providing weekly creative art and reminiscence workshops on the RUH older patients units led by a professional artist, co-produced by textile students and volunteers.

In a year, our artists reach on average 800 patients from both the Children’s ward, Combe Ward and OPUs.