Morag Myerscough brings happiness to Sheffield Children's Hospital with her colourful Joy Garden
London-based artist Morag Myerscough is renowned for creating outdoor installations and immersive experiences bursting with colour. And for her latest project, she has teamed up with the Children's Hospital Charity Artfelt to transform Sheffield Children's Hospital courtyard into a vibrant oasis.
Having spent a lot of time cooped up indoors over the last few years, the restorative qualities of open spaces are something we have all learnt not to take for granted. But for their latest project, Morag and Artfelt - in collaboration with future-friendly personal care product company Method - wanted to go one step further and 'bring good into the public realm' by creating the Joy Garden.
Located in the courtyard of Sheffield Children's Hospital and snaking its way through corridors and 46 en-suite bedrooms, the Joy Garden is a technicolour delight of the sort you'd expect from Morag. Inspired by a site visit arranged by Cat Powell, former head of Artfelt, the Joy Garden takes an underused outside space and turns it into a resplendent area that will bring hope and happiness to children, families and staff alike.
"This project means absolutely everything to me," says Morag. "I saw the empty space with Cat Powell of Artfelt back in 2017, and it was clear that it could be transformed into a beautiful, functional garden that would benefit everyone. I took no fee for my design, and therefore with Method's support, we were able to fund this important space at no upfront cost to the hospital."
To help establish the right look and feel of the Joy Garden, Morag and Method conducted fragrance and colour workshop sessions at the hospital with families and staff. As for the garden's distinctive geometric, colour-infused floor patterns, these were originally designed for another public artwork initiative in London. When this project was cancelled, Morag saw the opportunity to repurpose them in the hospital garden.
"I know how much outside space makes a difference to mood when you are confined to one space," she adds. "Some of the children and families stay in the hospital for extended periods and need to get outside and feel the sun on their faces.
"We've all realised the value of outside spaces and interacting with each other over the last couple of years. And although aesthetics are secondary to treatment in hospital, it's obvious that they bring much-needed value and support to the human experience. Hopefully, this garden will bring some joy when patients, families and staff need it most."
Another important element for Morag in constructing the garden was the desire to work with local craftspeople to finalise the build. The main structure of the Joy Garden was created by Design Workshop Ltd, a fabricator based in Sheffield. Meanwhile, the panels were painted by Morag in her workshop with eco-friendly paint gifted to her by YesColours.
"The Joy Garden completes a journey through our building, from an enticing entrance to our unique bedrooms, and now a special outdoor space that brings everyone together," adds Cat. "It's a privilege to work with Morag, who completely understands the difference art can bring to healthcare environments and has a fabulous talent for making spaces which enrich people's lives."
"The new Joy Garden is amazing – Morag has just brought such life and colour into the space," Ruth Brown, Chief Executive at Sheffield Children's NHS Foundation Trust, concludes. "Access to outdoor space and fresh air can be important for our well-being. We've got patients who have long stays with us and others who attend our Outpatients Department regularly, so having this new vibrant space will greatly benefit them."