A London hospital recently got a candy-colored makeover from Bridget Riley, the English painter at the forefront of the Op art movement. A colorful abstract mural–Riley’s first in 27 years–brightens the hallways of St Mary’s hospital in London.
Riley, who completed two other murals for St Mary’s in 1987, wanted the 184-foot-long artwork, commissioned by the Imperial College Healthcare Charity Art Collection, to transform the hospital’s sterile clinical environment into a place that would be more beautiful and uplifting for patients. The rhythms of the pink, orange, yellow, and green horizontal stripes of varying widths are intended to be soothing.
Some research suggests that art can have stress-reducing effects on patients. (Most studies, admittedly, have found art depicting nature to be the most effective.) Challenging abstract art can even stress anxious patients out. Will Riley’s commission work to patients’ advantage?
At least from the perspective of someone who is not unwell, the simple pattern and splashes of color seem calming. They certainly lift the visual mood of the otherwise characterless labyrinth of hospital hallways. The sensibility is undeniably upbeat.
“The hospital corridor paintings embrace the whole space; they aim to lift the spirits and to remind one of the life outside the hospital, while in no way interfering with the essential activities which must go on,” Riley said in a statement.