Major funding for national portrait gallery to give thousands of free activity books and provide workshops for the children of london's hospitals

The National Portrait Gallery is to embark on a major collaboration with London’s children’s hospitals, including Southwark, having secured an unprecedented three-year funding allocation from the real estate company Delancey.

The new funding will enable the Gallery to increase its commitment to providing access to the arts in London’s children’s hospitals, with Evelina London Children’s Hospital (part of Guy's and St Thomas' hospital) in Southwark being one of the hospitals benefiting. The only national arts organisation to provide an ongoing, high quality, bespoke educational creative arts project year-round at no cost to hospitals, the Gallery’s programme is entering its 15th year and includes eighty creative workshops a year working with photographers, writers and artists. For the past five years the Gallery has created free activity books to provide much-needed creative arts engagement for young people in hospitals, specifically during the school holidays when hospital schools are closed and there is limited provision for young people.

The books are a free resource given exclusively to young people in hospital when the Gallery is not delivering workshops and during the school year. Young people use the resource on their own, with their families, whilst on the ward and at home. The scale and quality of the books ensure they can be used in many different clinical settings. The project enables young people and their families to access the Gallery’s Collection and helps support health, wellbeing and happiness through participating in the books’ activities and workshops.

The gallery has worked in Southwark previously as part of this project, having worked with 3000 young people in four of London’s children’s hospitals, last year, a specially commissioned activity book of portraits and illustrations inspired by their favourite writers such as Roald Dahl, J.K. Rowling, Douglas Adams and Malorie Blackman. The book called My Magical Journeys was launched at Evelina London Children’s Hospital with a workshop given by one of the featured writers, poet John Hegley, and the book’s illustrator Lizzy Stewart.

Previous projects in the programme have also included Sir Peter Blake working with Evelina Hospital to coincide with the Gallery’s Pop Art Portraits exhibition in 2007, and in 2012 with Great Ormond Street Hospital My Superheros, an activity book by Marion Deuchars featuring portraits of figures from the Gallery’s Collection such as explorer Sir Francis Drake, scientist Michael Faraday and suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst.

The next three-year project, sponsored and made possible by Delancey, will continue to provide artist-led creative arts activity for young people in London’s children’s hospitals. Taking inspiration from its Collections, the National Portrait Gallery works in partnership with Evelina London Children’s Hospital; Great Ormond Street Hospital; The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel; and Newham University Hospital. The Gallery will deliver creative arts workshops in all four hospitals during every school holiday working with over 500 children and their families in eighty creative art workshops each year.

Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, comments: ‘I am delighted that Delancey will ensure the continued support of this exciting project that bring portraits from the National Portrait Gallery’s Collection directly to London’s children’s hospital and will inspires their own creative responses to them.’

Stafford Lancaster, Director at Delancey commented:

“It has been fantastic to be involved in such a worthwhile collaboration and be supporting the National portrait’s gallery in its with London’s children’s hospital, particularly given that Evelina London Children’s Hospital falls within the borough of Southwark. As a key stakeholder in the area, through our involvement in the redevelopment of Elephant and Castle town centre and the recent opening of new homes on Elephant road, we are keen to support programs which benefit the local community. The work that the Gallery and its staff do to encourage the development of art, visual literacy and communication skills within a hospital environment, and often for those suffering with long-term clinical conditions, is truly humbling. We look forward to seeing the programme go from strength to strength, and inspiring even more children and their families through an understanding and enjoyment of the medium of art.”