Connect: The public art programme for the redevelopment of the Royal Sussex County Hospital

CONNECT was delivered by Willis Newson and University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with 24 leading national and international artists, local artists, arts organisations, and community members. The programme comprises more than 150 original artworks which ‘Connect with Place’, celebrating Brighton, Sussex, the coast, and the unique character and cultures of the communities who live here.

Welcome Space reception desk, acoustic baffles and ‘Wrapped’ columns by Kate Blee, Photo Matt Livey

Welcome Space reception desk, acoustic baffles and ‘Wrapped’ columns by Kate Blee, Photo Matt Livey

This celebratory arts programme supports the wellbeing of patients, visitors and staff by making the hospital feel more welcoming, helping people find their way round, providing distraction and enjoyment, and ensuring people feel cared for.

The commissioned artworks permeate every area of the building from the main welcome space to waiting rooms, quiet rooms and clinical spaces.

The Commissions

The Welcome Space by Kate Blee

Wrapped, detail of Welcome Space glazed tiles on columns, Photo Matt Livey

Wrapped, detail of Welcome Space glazed tiles on columns, Photo Matt Livey

Artist Kate Blee was appointed early in the hospital design process to engage with BDP Architects on the vision for the main welcome space. This early involvement from the artist influenced the design of the main reception desk, the acoustic baffling that hangs above, and the colour scheme for the entire building.

Blee also created ‘Wrapped’, a composition of handmade ceramic tiles that wrap the columns throughout the welcome space. Rising 11m in some places, the columns rhythmically march through the entrance offering a large-scale, three-dimensional canvas that Blee uses to inject colour into the space.

Blee chose beautifully fabricated, hand-glazed clay tiles to deliver the colour. Perfect for a hospital in terms of their strength and durability, they also bring texture and warmth. Brighton is full of colour; it is in the architecture and the attitude of the place. Blee wanted this work to resonate with that mood and have a positive emotional influence on those arriving at the hospital.

The Waiting Rooms Photography Project

Brighton, the coast, the South Downs, and Sussex are celebrated through the Waiting Rooms Photography Project delivered in collaboration with Brighton-based Photoworks. Four photographers - Murray Ballard, Zoe Childerley, Celine Marchbank and lead artist Helen Sear - were selected to photograph Brighton, the coast, the South Downs, and Sussex. The pictures aim to be a source of contemplation and pleasure for patients, visitors and staff across the 36 waiting rooms in the Louisa Martindale Building.

Helen Sear - Sussex Portfolio

‘Powdermill Ponds 2’ by Helen Sear, Photo Matt Livey

In creating this collection of photographs celebrating Sussex, internationally acclaimed photographer, Sear spent two years exploring the gardens and landscapes of Sussex. She was drawn to examine the contrast between places where nature has been left to its own devices, and places where plants and landscapes have been carefully cultivated and protected by human intervention.

Visiting inspirational locations – from the arts and crafts legacy of Standen House to the endangered heathland habitat of Iping Common – Sear digitally manipulates and layers images to create beautifully patterned compositions that celebrate nature in all its forms.


‘Powdermill Ponds 2’ by Helen Sear, Photo Matt Livey

 Murray Ballard - South Downs Portfolio

Murray Ballard, Photo Matt Livey

Murray Ballard, Photo Matt Livey

Ballard has lived in Sussex all his life. In photographing the South Downs for this project, he was often revisiting places that were familiar and meaningful to him personally.

Titling his collection, ‘Lureland’, Ballard is referencing the photographic ‘allure’ of these picturesque chalky downs, made up of rolling farmland, ancient woodland and ‘picture perfect’ villages.

‘Lureland’ also refers directly to an advertisement by property developers trying to attract Londoners to relocate to new settlements being built on the Downs as part of the ‘Homes for Heroes’ campaign after the First World War.

This collection offers an antidote to the urban environment and modern living. As the writer and environmentalist Wallace Stegner wrote, “the idea of knowing that such places exist might be psychologically resourceful for us.”

Zoe Childerley - The Coast Portfolio

‘Beneath the Waves’ by Zoe Childerley, Photo Matt Livey

‘Beneath the Waves’ by Zoe Childerley, Photo Matt Livey

Childerley has taken a dive into the Sussex coastal landscape – floating, paddling, sailing and walking with local communities – to create seascape imagery from ‘beneath the waves’, ‘on the surface’ and ‘at the edge’ of the sea.

The work she has produced is as varied and complex as the coast itself. It ranges from still lives showing botanical specimens found at the shoreline, to larger compositions  incorporating explanations, diagrams, and equations alluding to our attempts to navigate and comprehend the Sussex coastline.

Celine Marchbank - Brighton Portfolio

Celine Marchbank, Photo Matt Livey

Celine Marchbank, Photo Matt Livey

Taking the theme of ‘Brighton’, Marchbank has created a series of photographs that evoke and celebrate the sense of place that home brings.

During the course of the project, Marchbank engaged with many local residents - including patients, ex-patients, staff, volunteers, carers, visitors and family members – who shared stories of what home means to them and invited Marchbank into their homes to capture the spirit of these stories. The resulting photographs are sensitive portraits of people and place.

Art and Wayfinding

Rottingdean Windmill, by Lara Harwood
Sussex Lift Core - Rottingdean Windmill, by Lara Harwood


Thirteen artists and designers, many of them Brighton-based, were commissioned as part of the Art and Wayfinding project to create large-scale illustrations depicting local landmarks from Brighton, Sussex and the local coastline. These graphic wall works are placed in all the lift lobbies and department entrances to make it easier to find your way around.

Using artworks and colour alongside signage not only makes wayfinding easier, it also makes the journey more interesting and enjoyable.

Each lift core has its own collection and colour scheme:

  • The lift lobbies in the turquoise lift core A all depict images of the coast.
  • The lift lobbies in the yellow lift core B all depict images of Sussex
  • The lift lobbies in the pink lift core C all depict images of Brighton
Seven Sisters by Alison Milner, Photo Matt Livey
Coast Lift Core - Seven Sisters by Alison Milner, Photo Matt Livey


The thirteen artists were: Alison Milner, Carys Tait, George Sharp, Ilona Drew, Julie Ingham, Katty McMurray, Lara Harwood, Marissa Kingsbury, Melanie Smith, Nadia Taylor, Sara Mulvanny, Sarah Edmonds, and Ulrika Jarl.

The West Pier by Ulrika Jarl
Brighton Lift Core - The West Pier by Ulrika Jarl


 Applied by Hannah Maybank


Hannah Maybank, Photo Matt Livey

Hannah Maybank, Photo Matt Livey

Creating delicate patterns based on local flora, Hannah Maybank has created three bespoke wallpapers drawing on the themes Brighton, Sussex and the Coast. These low maintenance, wipeable wallpapers have been applied to each of the 26 quiet rooms in the Louisa Martindale building.

Maybank has also created floral designs which have been printed directly onto ceiling tiles in key treatment rooms to create focal points and help soften these spaces.

Applied Quiet Room wallpaper by Hannah Maybank














The Sanctuary by Sharon Ting

The Sanctuary by Sharon Ting, Photo Matt Livey

The Sanctuary by Sharon Ting, Photo Matt Livey

The Sanctuary is a contemplative space supporting the human, emotional and spiritual needs of all who use the hospital including patients, visitors, and staff.

Textile artist Sharon Ting has created a series of artworks to help people find solace and comfort. Designed to bring welcome, reassurance and inspiration to this space, they include:

Calm by Sharon Ting

The Sanctuary by Sharon Ting, Photo Matt Livey

These beautiful floor-to-ceiling glass panels in front of the window enhance and frame the view of the sea. The panels cast subtle colour reflections and textured shadows to create a soothing and calm atmosphere. The hand-made textiles enclosed within them bring a soft, tactile element to the Sanctuary.


Contemplation by Sharon Ting

The delicate hand-made textile encased in a backlit wall-mounted box sits behind the altar, decorated with another hand-made textile, to delineate and honour an area for quiet contemplation.


Sanctuary glazed panels by Sharon Ting, Photo Matt Livey

Reflection by Marc Burden & Sharon Ting

Wall of reflection by Sharon Ting and Marc Burden, Photo Matt Livey 

This series of photographs of the Brighton horizon taken at different times of the day invites patients, carers, visitors and staff to reflect by writing messages, thoughts, and memories on cards which they can then place on the shelf underneath the artwork.

The Space Outside by Marion Brandis 

Jesmonite Buoys by Marion Brandis

Jesmonite Buoys by Marion Brandis, Photo Matt Livey 

Sussex-based ceramic artist Marion Brandis has designed a series of artworks for the outside spaces of the Louisa Martindale Building including mosaic inlays, large mosaic spheres, jesmonite buoys and friendly seagulls.

Designed as focal points and conversation-starters, Marion’s sculptural artworks bring colour, texture and sensory stimulus into these spaces.

Inspired by the area surrounding the hospital, Brandis’ sculptures provide distraction and create therapeutic, restful and welcoming environments for patients, visitors and staff.

Ceramic inlaid planter by Marion Brandis

Courtyard planter and mosaic spheres by Marion Brandis, Photo Matt Livey 

In the Rheumatology Courtyard on Level 1, Brandis has created a mosaic band incorporating local scenes inlaid into the large planter. Two large mosaic spheres, decorated with images of the Kemptown arches and other local references, sit on top of the planters within the foliage.

Large-scale, colourful, painted jesmonite buoys create focal points within the Therapy Garden on Level 10, whilst humorous sculptures of gulls animate the Therapy Gardens on Level 4 and Level 10.

Seagulls by Marion Brandis

Seagulls by Marion Brandis, Photo Matt Livey 

Crucible by Nimbus and Daniel Locke

Crucible by Nimbus and Daniel Locke

Crucible by Nimbus and Daniel Locke, Photo Matt Livey 

Brighton-based arts collective Nimbus worked with Brighton artist and graphic novelist Daniel Locke on ‘Crucible’, a permanent artwork and online archive celebrating the history and heritage of the Royal Sussex County Hospital.

Part-funded by the Arts Council England, the artwork represents the hospital as a ‘Crucible’ – a melting pot – in which social change combines with developments in healthcare, changes in thinking around the relationship of mental and physical health and the ethics and economics of care.

Emerge by Onca

Staff flags from the Emerge Project

Emerge staff flags, Photo Onca 

Brighton-based arts organisation ONCA and artist Sarah Bennett, delivered Emerge, a programme of creative activities designed to support the wellbeing of staff at the Royal Sussex County Hospital and Princess Royal Hospital as they went through the process of transition from the old to the new.

Emerge offered staff opportunities to feel nurtured, be creative, connect and have fun through a range of creative activities, workshops and experiences.


“Things like this make me feel so valued at work. 

Thank you for doing this.”

Hospital Staff Member



Find out more on the Connect website