© Helen Sear, Pond, 2011

The four photography commissions will deliver a permanent collection of photographic artworks sited across 36 public waiting rooms within the new 3Ts redevelopment of Brighton’s Royal Sussex County Hospital to open from 2020.

The new commissions will form part of CONNECT, the public art programme for the hospital redevelopment. CONNECT will create a distinctive identity for the hospital and a lasting legacy of accessible, high-quality public art for the city, county and community.

Underlining a sense of place connecting patients and the local environment, the four themes chosen for the photography programme of CONNECT are Sussex, South Downs, Brighton and Coast.

Internationally recognised photographer, Helen Sear, has been selected for the major photography commission, which will take the theme of Sussex as a starting point for the creation of a new series of works.

Helen Sear, who represented Wales at the 56th Venice Biennale, says

‘This commission will be an exciting and challenging opportunity for me to extend and explore the emotional influence of images within a truly public context, and to work alongside experts from the field of medicine, hospital communities and architectural environments. I lived and worked in Sussex for three years and I’m looking forward to revisiting and rediscovering the county.’

A call for entries for the three remaining photography commissions of Brighton, Coast and South Downs, each offering a fee of £6,400, is open until 1 November 2017.

The commissioning partners seek proposals for the creation of stimulating images for the enjoyment of staff, patients and visitors using the waiting areas for many years to come – work which will become a source of contemplation and pleasure during potential times of stress, distress or discomfort. Clinical research shows enhancing the hospital environment has a positive effect on reducing patient and visitor anxiety, helping the recovery process and reducing the need for pain relief medication.

The partners envisage these commissions resulting in photographic projects that go beyond a direct documentary response, conveying instead an experience and understanding of the spirit of place, gained through research of relevant localities and by developing relationships with local communities/groups. Applications are open to photographers nationally and are particularly encouraged from photographers with a connection to Sussex.

In a joint statement the partnership organisations BSUH, Photoworks, Wilson Newson and the University of Brighton say,

‘These commissions will play an important role within this world-class health facility. They will help provide a positive environment that will complement the exceptional medical care patients can expect. The commissions will help to maximise patient recovery and significantly improve the waiting experience for patients, staff, visitors and carers for many years to come. They offer an exciting opportunity for photographers to connect not only with the large numbers of people within the hospital, but also with diverse communities across Sussex. This is an investment that will genuinely improve the care environment for everyone and help foster a sense of pride in the hospital’

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