Y Bwthyn Macmillan Palliative Care Centre
The Y Bwthyn NGS Macmillan Specialist Palliative Care Unit is a £7.25m unit offering inpatient and outpatient palliative care at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital.
Willis Newson worked with Macmillan Cancer Support, Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board and KKE Architects to curate a programme of integrated artworks to enhance the environment for patients, staff and visitors.
“The beautiful, unique and uplifting environment of the new Y Bwthyn Unit is rooted in people and place. The artist team worked in close collaboration with the architects, staff and, above all, with patients to create a place with caring, compassion and community at its heart.”
Jane Willis, Willis Newson
Five artists, a photographer, a furniture maker and a poet were commissioned to create glazing, screens, feature walls, display shelving and photography for the unit. The artwork was informed by workshops with patients, carers and the local community who told us that they wanted to connect people to places and things they hold dear, and to celebrate nature through colours and imagery.
Nicky Hirst: Garden Screens and Glazing
Nicky Hirst’s glazing and screens animate indoor and outdoor spaces through the play of light and shade, as well as lend privacy to patient bedrooms. Nicky’s designs are based on dandelion seed heads:
“After taking part in a workshop with Y Bwthyn day patients, I was struck by how often the words ‘to breathe’ came up in relation to favourite places. It got me thinking about the generations of children who have helped make dandelions one of Britain's most common weeds. By blowing the delicate and beautiful seed heads, or ‘dandelion clocks’, they disperse in the wind and land in all kinds of different places. Since the dandelion can thrive in difficult conditions, it is no wonder that people say the flower symbolises the ability to rise above life’s challenges.”
Nicky Hirst, Artist
Kate Bond: Main Feature Wall
Kate Bond worked with patients and staff to design a welcoming and reassuring feature wall which runs from the entrance, through the central spine of the building and into the family room. It depicts the local landscape.
“The feature wall is designed to promote peace and reflection. I took my inspiration from the Welsh landscape: rolling hills in the distance, with ethereal feathery ferns in the foreground.”
Kate Bond, Artist
Kate’s designs have also been turned into beautiful cloth bags in which patient possessions will be returned to relatives. These bags are now given to bereaved relatives whose loved ones were cared for at Cwm Taf Morgannwg’s palliative care wards rather than a standard NHS plastic bag.
Heather Parnell, David Mackie and clare e potter: History Wall
Heather Parnell, David Mackie and poet clare e potter worked with patients, staff and the wider community to research the history of the original Pontypridd Cottage Hospital site. They have created a history wall and interpretation panels that tell the many stories of Y Bwthyn before its move to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital.
“The local history is very rich but it’s the personal memories and stories shared during workshops, along with tea and cake, that moved us the most. There are strong friendships and human warmth at Y Bwthyn; ‘a concentration of kindness’ is how one person described it."
Heather Parnell, Artist
Photography for Patient Bedrooms
Photographer Gemma Bartlett has created a South Wales photography portfolio for each patient bedroom, inspired by patient memories. A case of 20 photographs sits in each bedroom, from which patients or relatives can select pictures to be displayed on bespoke picture shelves. This is accompanied by a book of the full portfolio, including quotes from patients: ‘Going up the field and picking wildflowers all day; eating brown sauce sandwiches whenever we got hungry’; ‘Playing in the forest or up the mountain, only governed by the time of the sun’; ‘A walk on a crisp morning, breathing the freshness of the air’.
“I have tried to capture the landscape and the feelings of treasured memories. They are inspired by the patients, staff and the atmosphere at Y Bwthyn.”
Gemma Bartlett, Photographer
Inpatient Feature Walls
Partnering with the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) Surface Design MA, student Anna Bruce was offered a commission to create two feature walls for the inpatient area. Featuring gardens full of wildlife and the traces of human activity – tea on the table, washing on the line, a lawn mower and gardening tools – they celebrate nature and connect people to places and things they hold dear.
“This was a privileged and unique experience for our students to pitch for a real-world application of their ideas on a significant and meaningful scale.
“Willis Newson’s commitment to involve local emerging talent in the design of the new Y Bwthyn has been rewarding for us in so many ways. Not only does it highlight the abundant skill we have in our design graduates here in Wales, it gives graduates like Anna an early career boost to their portfolio with all the additional experiences you could expect to glean through such a high profile and prolonged project.
“It also speaks to us very directly about the importance of design in healthcare, allowing subsequent students here at UWTSD’s Swansea College of Art to further consider the function of their designs in terms of wellbeing.”
Georgia Mackie, Programme Lead, Surface Pattern Design MA, University of Wales Trinity St David
Day Room Display Units
Welsh furniture maker Rob Barnby has created bespoke and versatile display areas within the Day Unit for patients to exhibit artwork they have made in the unit. Beautifully crafted from oak, Rob’s shelving brings a tactile quality to the space and enables a wide variety of pictures, objects and plants to be displayed, creating homely feel.