Hospitals can be very functional and occasionally somewhat drab places. Acres of magnolia are not proven to damage health, but there is now quite a lot of evidence that making the caring environment visually more attractive has a positive effect. Andy Elder has been an important voice and long standing advocate for the inclusion of art work into the caring environment. Initially involved in building the Eastern General Hospital Art Collection with Dr John Munro, he brought a lot of this collection to the Western when services from the Eastern – and his own consultant post – were permanently relocated here.

He knows that hanging pictures in hospitals can divide opinion – some feel the whole idea is of little value, that the money could be better spent, others that it’s a must have.  Individual images can often provoke such sentiments.

One day, turning a corner into the long corridor in the AFB, Andy saw in the distance one of his senior consultant colleagues, standing stock still, staring at a large painting. His heart sank. He knew the consultant – a self-confessed philistine that Andy had placed firmly on the “no” side of the art in hospital divide – and he knew the picture. It was a yellow rectangular canvas with a single, thin, vertical line. That was it – no hills, people, or flowers. The kind of picture that would make even the most ardent defender of the arts struggle to find a justification for its existence.

Before he could make an escape, his colleague, now with hands on hips, caught sight of him coming, and made it clear he wanted to talk.

“ Andy, am I right in thinking you are responsible for this kind of stuff hanging in this corridor?”

“Yep” replied Andy, bracing himself for the tirade to come.

But he was in for a pleasant surprise. “You know something, Andy? I don’t know what this picture is about, but I like it!”

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