Our October issue’s Amazing Space features the new Mitchells Plain Hospital, which plays host to colourful corridors of bright mosaic renderings of hearts and hands. Working with a team of eight mosaic artists and trainers, Cape Town-based artist Lovell Friedman, took on seven people from the community in Mitchells Plain and trained them to create the mosaic pieces found throughout the new hospital. HL chatted to Lovell about this original undertaking…
How long did the process take?
We had less than 11 months to complete the murals and the work really was a labour of love. Our goal was to piece together little pieces that tell a variety of stories.
From where did you work, and who was involved?
We worked from two containers on site. Although I designed it, I involved everyone in the design process and used drawings and slogans from children gathered during workshops that I held. I also ran workshops with nurses and others from the community, with their messages worked into the designs. Drawings were photocopied and blown up and outlines traced for the mosaic designs.
The mosaic pieces are rich in symbolism. Can you share some of their meanings?
An important part of the visual literacy of the hospital is portrayed through the use of symbols. In the entrance foyer of the hospital are two welcoming figures, a doctor and a nurse, placed on opposite walls. They are surrounded by motifs depicting the principles of the hospital and the borders are made up of people’s faces from the community; children and adults alike.
At the pay area the mosaic shows depictions of hands and of fingerprints. Hands symbolise healing and working together.
‘Healing the world, healing the environment’ in one slogan featured. Where did the slogans originate from?
Some of the slogans were from myself, while others were from the community. For example, the hearts came from the children. I ran about six workshops with one of the schools and we spoke about symbols and hearts. The children had to create drawings and artworks with pencil crayons that represented illness and healing. It was quite jarring to see how many instances of abuse came up.
Tell us about the slogan ‘Help the children live a better life’.
That slogan came from the children. Their stories related to health issues and well being.
What slogans came from the workshop you ran with the nurses?
The slogan ‘Good habits, no matter how small, change communities’ is one. Another is ‘Stop, think, prevent’. The themes that dominated with the nurses were obesity, anti-smoking, overcoming anger, adopting love, following a healthy lifestyle, learning to listen to your body, tranquility and kindness, healing, hope and patience, and family support. I ran the workshop with the hospital staff and took all their little sayings to make one image.
Where did the bold image that meets you upon entering the hospital come from?
The community wanted an image of a mother and a child that was representative not just of the people from Mitchells Plain, but from the adjacent community too.
And the ‘garden of hope’ mural in the paedeatric centre?
I spoke about that concept with the children and made collages of their drawings. The mural is mostly made up of their work, evident from the beautiful, bright and joyful colours. In the waiting room, children can play outside in the courtyard with a ‘shongololo bench’.
View the full article on the Mitchells Plain Hospital on pages 34-36 in the October issue of House and Leisure.
Interviewed by Lisa Wallace Photographs Adam Letch