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A Veronese in the
Reviewed by ANDRE BEAUMONT
We've been looking in the wrong place for public art.
Looking for a mackerel?
It's alive and well in hospitals. It makes people feel good.
Here they are.
As patients are wheeled out of the operating theatres at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital a fair proportion will have these mackerel as the first things they see. It's enough to make you hungry. If they disappeared we can only surmise that the staff and patients have concluded that an oily fish diet is good for you and used the operating theatres for other purposes.
I've always been interested in hospital design. As a student I wrote a dissertation on it. Not one with anything interesting in it - just one of those that teaches you the ropes of how to write them.
There has been a lot going on at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in the past few years.
A few weeks ago, on 18 March 2014, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall opened the Chelsea Children's Hospital within it. This is home to a state-of-the-art surgical robot called Pluto dedicated to babies and children.
The children's hospital trust fund is running an appeal for this robot and the following is a quote from its publicity material about Pluto the Robot:
Using the most advanced technology available today, the da Vinci Surgical System enables surgeons to perform delicate and complex operations through a few tiny incisions with increased vision, precision, dexterity and control.
The da Vinci Surgical System consists of several key components, including: an ergonomically designed console where the surgeon sits while operating, a patient-side cart where the patient lays during surgery, four interactive robotic arms, a high-definition 3D vision system, and proprietary Endo Wrist instruments.
(Surgical robots must surely be part of the mix for the NHS of the future. There is more than one make on the market. They will definitely not be making the bulk of the decisions for a surgeon as the robotics in driverless cars will do for passengers but one can imagine them making some safety critical decisions automatically such as not permitting accidental incision of an artery).
The Emergency Department will also be undergoing a redevelopment starting in May 2014 and finishing in early 2016. One of the best performing emergency departments in England, last year it treated 112,000 people in a department designed for 60,000. The site is relatively restricted and the redevelopment will extend into space between two buildings on the west side.
An open day in June did in fact reveal that the mackerel will be going as new facilities are scheduled. A separate charitable trust, not the NHS, pays for the contemporary art and some of it will be replaced as it has been there since the last major redevelopment in 1992.