VANCOUVER GENERAL HOSPITAL / UBC HOSPITAL, Vancouver BC – Ongoing
By Michael Turner
Launched in 2000, the VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation Art Collection program was designed to “create an atmosphere – aesthetically and attitudinally – where emotional and physical healing can happen,” says Dr. Bev Spring, VGH palliative care physician and member of the Art Advisory Committee. Eighteen years later, the collection numbers more than 1,200 pieces, all donated by local artists and collectors.
Recently the hospital foundation has been active in commissioning works. In early November sculptor David Robinson’s Windward Calm (2018) was unveiled in the seven-storey glass atrium of the Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre. Modestly described by Robinson during its preliminary stages as “a figure … sitting in a flying sailboat,” the completed work evokes both fluidity and patience; it was inspired by Robinson’s own hospital experiences.
Another recent commission is in line with what foundation vice-president Jim O’Hara refers to as the hospitals’ efforts to ensure a safe and respectful environment for Indigenous clients. “One of our patrons, Larry Garfinkel of Native Northwest, stepped up when we showed him a stretch of wall in need of some TLC. Larry came back with nine acrylic-onwood paintings by Haisla-Heiltsuk artist Paul Windsor.”
But donations continue to provide the bulk of the collection, with some highbrow company joining the likes of local legends Jack Shadbolt and Sylvia Tait. “Not long ago we received ten prints by Mary Pratt, one of only four such editions. And just the other day, we confirmed the acquisition of a Robert Rauschenberg. It’s not in the best shape, mind you, but it’s nothing our hospitals can’t fix!”