Contemporary Art with a Rock n'Roll edge!

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital x Lauren Baker Permanent Art Collection

December 20, 2018

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital x Lauren Baker Permanent Art Collection

Probably the most rewarding experience our gallery had this year was the honour to place Lauren Bakers’s Galaxy Explosion series into the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital’s permanent art collection, where they will be now viewed by millions of people for years to come. The works will also be featured in their upcoming book chronicling their extraordinary art collection. 

The story began when we released the Galaxy Explosion works at our Lauren Baker solo exhibition The Immensity of The Universe at Moniker Art Fair in October 2018, where all of the artists proofs on display sold out instantly at the private view.

Here, unbeknownst to us at the time, we were being scouted out by the hospitals specialist art team who were on the hunt for their latest acquisition by one of the art world’s brightest young stars, for their collection. Their vote was unanimously for Lauren and specifically the brand new Galaxy Explosion series of prints from The Immensity of The Universe

Once the logistics had been taken care of with specialist conservation framing for the works and passing them over to their curators for secure installation, we were invited on a tour to view the hospital's vast collection and see the new works in situ. 

What we encountered was truly spectacular and far beyond what we had expected from an NHS hospital art collection. With over 1000 works on display, their oldest piece is a spectacular Renaissance oil painting, the like of which is unheard of outside of major public galleries: The Resurrection of Christ by Veronese, c.1580. Displayed in their beautiful little Chapel.

The Resurrection of Christ, Paolo Veronese, c.1580

Old Masters aside, the rest of the collection fills the wards and waiting rooms throughout the enormous building and centres around Modern British art at its finest. Over the past thirty or so years the savvy surgeons have been amassing an extraordinary collection of rare and brilliant works, mostly collected from their friends and associates in the once ultra avant-garde Chelsea art scene. 

Rather than the amateurish still lives of “sympathetic” flowers in tatty frames, so familiar to anyone who has had the misfortune to spend any length of time in a UK hospital, we were instead given an in depth tour of a collection to rival the Tate Gallery, with all of the works carefully curated into in order to maximise their impact. 

To name just a few, we viewed original works by Mary Fedden and Julian Trevelyan, rare prints by Eduardo Paolozzi and Sandra Blow, and a huge scale commissioned painting by Albert Irvin.

Hollywood, Albert Irvin, Acrylic on Canvas, 1995

Lamplight, Mary Fedden, Lithograph, 1985

Alongside these giants of British 20th century art are some incredible installation works by some of the biggest names in British Art spanning the 20th century: Three Banners by abstract painter Patrick Heron; The Acrobat, a giant steel sculpture reaching high into the rafters by the Pop Artist Allen Jones RA and a superb installation featuring enormous steel orbs wrapping around a vast wall by contemporary London based Irish artist Joy Gerrard.

Three Banners, Patrick Heron 

The Acrobat 

Allen Jones, R.A., Painted corten steel

Assembly/450, Joy Gerrard, 316 grate stainless steel spheres and rods, 2011 

The defining feature of this incredible collection was the theme of abstraction. We have always believed that nothing compares to abstract art when it comes to evoking a pure feeling or mood. There is a way that a great abstract artwork can instantly take you out of your own head and make you engage with a deeper consciousness, one unrestrained by pre-conceived ideas of time, place and situation. The hospital team were very much in agreement and their research indicated that people found an instantaneous connection with abstract works. It was clear from our conversation that people are often are far more accepting of abstract art in a public space than their own homes, where we may strangely feel more constrained.

Looking to the future the hospital have undertaken fascinating research into wellbeing and recovery and are constantly improving the environment in such thoughtful ways. There is a patient cinema showing current releases, an indoor garden in which to sit and relax, and screens in the waiting areas which eschew depressing daytime TV to instead show digital art films featuring wildlife and street scenes, where one can simply sit and people or bird watch. 

We ended our tour by seeing Lauren's works in their new home, the waiting area of medical photography lab. This is a place visited by both children and adults, we were told it could be the first place you might be sent after a diagnosis, thus it could be something of a daunting atmosphere. 

The Galaxy Explosion series were chosen for their positive message, their attempt to make us see ourselves as a part of something much bigger, visually exploring our connection to a wider Universe, inspired by explosions in outer space, the big bang and our very creation. 

In Lauren’s own words:

Humans and galaxies share about 97% of the same kind of atoms. These crucial elements are often referred to as the building blocks of life. Our bodies are made of remnants of stars and massive explosions in galaxies. Astronomers have proved that quite simply… we are made of stardust. And in summary, freedom is a state of mind. 

Lauren Baker’s Galaxy Explosion Series can be viewed and purchased the link below:

Photographs courtesy of:

CW+ (read more about Chelsea and Westminster’s Art programme and research here):

The Courtauld Institute of Art:


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