Butterflies have taken over the main reception at the Royal Berkshire Hospital as part of an arts project aimed at encouraging people to register as organ donors.
The Gift of Life display features hundreds of butterflies and was designed by the Hospital Art Studio.
We wanted to create a fitting tribute to the people who have quite literally given the gift of life to others, and a place where their families will know they are being remembered
Commissioned by the hospital’s organ and tissue donation committee, the aim of the project was to produce a lasting memorial to those people who have donated organs, and to encourage others to do so in the future.
A spokesman for the Hospital Art Studio said: “Our aim was to create not just a memorial, but also a piece of art. Our initial idea was to use a heart shape to infer life, but what could we use to pick out this heart shape? After researching the countryside around the hospital, it was clear that the area is blessed with one of the best habitats for summer butterfly spotting, especially on the chalk grasslands of the Berkshire Downs. We chose five butterflies, indigenous to the area, chosen specially so their colours work together harmoniously and also complement the hospital surroundings.”
The team then began creating the artwork, which gives the impression that the butterflies are flying off the wall.
The spokesman said: “We decided the smaller butterflies that pick out the heart shape would be applied directly to the wall, and the larger ones would be fixed to the wall with spacers, seeming like they are fluttering into the room.
“The title, Gift of Life , is also fitted with spacers to give extra emphasis to the message.”
Commenting on the impact the artwork has had, intensive care consultant, Dr Chris Danbury, said: “The team has produced a piece of artwork which is truly stunning.
“We wanted to create a fitting tribute to the people who have quite literally given the gift of life to others, and a place where their families will know they are being remembered.
Organ donation has transformed my life beyond recognition. It’s the greatest gift that you can give
“Everyone who sees the artwork says it has fulfilled all of their aspirations, and more too."
Richard Burbedge is a double lung transplant patient who has been treated at the hospital. He said: “The artwork provokes thought about organ donation, but is also a sign of being reborn. The enormity of the piece really helps to get the message across. Organ donation has transformed my life beyond recognition. It’s the greatest gift that you can give. And if you’ve never talked about it, please do, as you could be someone’s hero as my donor is to me.”