St Bartholomew’s Hospital – Barts – England’s oldest working hospital, is about to celebrate its 900th anniversary. And it wants to hear from ordinary Londoners about their memories of the world-famous hospital.
Cartographer Adam Dant is giving the public a chance to be immortalised in his latest artwork, Barts: 900 Years In 900 Stories, by sharing their personal experiences of the hospital which was founded in 1123.
Are you a Barts baby? Maybe you married someone you met at the hospital at WEst Smithfield in the City of London? Or perhaps – like Dant – you ended up at Barts after helping a famous pop star carry a piano down four flights of stairs.
Depicting shared histories of particular places is the artist’s speciality and Barts: 900 Years In 900 Stories is set to bring to life all manner of hospital tales in his “Modern Hogarthian style”.
From the extraordinary, such as young medical student Percy Shelley’s fascination with reanimating Barts medical cadavers using electricity, to the regular visits made by the entire Murphy family for the treatment of a series of increasingly silly accidents.
The artwork has been commissioned by Barts Heritage, the charity responsible for the care and restoration of the historic buildings at the heart of the working hospital. Barts Heritage is currently developing a £9.1million project, Sharing Historic Barts, which, if the fundraising target is met, will begin in autumn 2023 to coincide with the hospital’s 900th year.
This National Lottery Heritage Fund-supported project will see the repair and conservation of the North Wing with its famous interiors – the Hogarth Stair and the Great Hall. The building will be revitalised for a range of uses, including a pioneering programme of activities linking heritage and health.
“Being asked by Barts Heritage to produce their special commemorative 900th anniversary artwork is a proper privilege,” Dant said.
“As an artist I relish nothing more than the chance to nose around in the city’s more unusual archives, connecting the strange anecdotes of our forebears with who we are now and what’s important to us today as a society.”
Will Palin, Chief Executive of Barts Heritage, said: “As St Bartholomew’s Hospital approaches its 900th anniversary we are delighted to be working with Adam Dant on a celebratory map charting the remarkable history of Britain’s oldest working hospital.
“Dant’s map will be populated with 900 stories as told by the people of Barts and those across the capital and the country (past and present), whose lives have been touched by this famous institution, together with tales uncovered from hospital archives.
“Adam’s unique eye (and ear) for the curious, the humorous and the tragic will bring to life 900 years of Barts history in all its beautiful (and occasionally bloody) glory.”
A special signed, limited edition print version of the map commission will go on sale from January, in support of Barts Heritage and the Sharing Historic Barts project.
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