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Artist helps to transform Cygnet Hospital Hexham

Fisher Ward at Cygnet Hospital Hexham has been transformed by a local artist with a themed mural that is “out of this world”.

Victoria Sand (33), an artist based in Hexham, drew her inspiration from Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher, an advocate for mental health issues, after whom the hospital ward is named. The galaxy-themed mural even includes a baby Yoda.

The hospital, in Anick Road, Hexham, is a 27 bed mental health facility for women with complex mental health needs. The hospital is split into two wards, each offering specialist mental health services. Fisher Ward is a new mental health acute service for women with complex mental health needs and will be open for admissions on Monday 24th May 2021.

The piece came about after Rebecca French, an Occupational Therapist at the hospital, appealed for local artists to help brighten the walls for both units, at the request of hospital staff and service users.

After completing the mural and now embarking on a second, Victoria said: “I’m really enjoying working with Cygnet Hospital Hexham. This was such a special piece for me personally as it is the first piece I’ve done after having recent surgery and doing it for a women’s mental health hospital just felt so right.”

She added: “It was a great way of getting back into doing what I love because I hadn’t been working after my operation. It’s a wall for the service users to leave a message when they finish treatment, and it makes extra symbolic for me as this piece represents my fresh start too.”

Victoria developed a keen interest in pursuing art career when she was working as a teaching assistant in a local high school in Hexham where one of her colleagues realised her art talent and convinced her to take A-level in Art.

After completing a degree in Fine Arts, she moved to Spain to enhance her art career. She organised a number of her own workshops, private art lessons and taught art for a year at an international school in Spain. She has recently relocated to the UK.

Anthony Saiger, Hospital Manager at Cygnet Hospital Hexham said: “We are delighted with the amazing wall that Victoria has created for us. It really lifts up our spirits and it is much more pleasant to look at than plain walls.”

He added: “Victoria approached the project with energy and enthusiasm. And if it helps showcase her talent to boost her art career in the UK, that will be a bonus.”

Victoria’s next project is a music-themed wall at Franklin Ward, a specialist PICU service for women named after Aretha Franklin, an American singer-songwriter who battled with mental health issues. The design for Franklin Ward will be decorated with music notes and saxophones.

The idea is that when service users are discharged after treatment and support, they will be able to add their stamp to the stars and music notes on the wall to leave messages for staff members.

Rebecca French said: “We wanted to bring more of a feeling of community and home inside the hospital and Victoria’s mural is brightening the outlook for service users, staff and visitors at the hospital. The whole process has been very well received by the service users.”

She added: “We are very pleased to work with her and we are in talk to do further projects in summer.”

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