Proton Beam Therapy Unit, University College Hospital, London
Genre of work
Illuminated fused glass panels with 3-D wirework additions enclosed in an engineered zinc lattice internal frame
150cm x 100cm
The Proton Beam Therapy Unit (PBT) is a new clinical facility, opened in 2021, which enables radiotherapy using a high-energy beam of particles to destroy cancer cells. It is particularly well suited to complex childhood cancers.
Unexpectedly being awarded the Stevens Competition Commission 2019 to design a window for this NHS facility at UCHL, this artwork developed into a 3-fold vision:
- to engage anxious patients waiting for radiation cancer treatment,
- to lift the dedicated NHS workers working 24/7 underground in the PBT Unit,
- to be a gift to this huge triumph of medical science and engineering.
Believing that images in nature can ease pain, anxiety and stress, ideas began in Australia with Aboriginal song-lines, dreaming tracks, pathways across the land, sky and sea.
Turtles in Aboriginal art are particularly fascinating, some of the oldest animals on earth making migratory journeys for an estimated 200 million years, symbolising long life and good health. behavioural characteristics of turtles have shown a refusal to stop until their migration programme is complete – up to 10,000 miles and persistence over a number of years: PBT patients need many return visits for treatment over a considerable period of time for their healing journey.
A Journey in Nature with a Message of Hope began to take shape, something easily recognisable, easy on the eyes, not too abstract, to spark a good memory perhaps…
The Gulf Stream story begins in the lower panels showing the timelessness of nature in the marine animal fossils imprinted into the glass – ammonites, starfish, crinoids and corals, symbolising the hugeness of the universe and the possibility that something more far-reaching is going on beyond the tough times for patients and families in the waiting room.
Wirework turtles in 3-D glass are gathered up and carried into the swirling gulf stream to better weather, all set under a lilac moon in the top left - the prime light navigation source for the turtle hatchlings as they head through the waves offshore in the top right panel.
The bold design circles are intended as symbols of strength, light and hope.
The artwork Gulf Stream sits in our waiting area of the newly built Proton Beam Therapy Centre. It provides an uplifting and engaging distraction to our patients whilst introducing much needed colour and light into an underground space.
The work is beautiful and playful and Hilary’s craft and artistry is clearly evident in the work.
The hospital is very fortunate to be able to benefit from this installation.
Guy Noble - Arts curator
University College London Hospitals – NHS Foundation Trust