Pentagram has teamed up with placemaking agency Futurecity and renowned graphic artist Karel Martens to create a permanent installation at the newly opened Cancer Centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital. The piece is one of five major art commissions in the centre, which was designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and weighs the same amount as its iconic neighbour - the Shard.
Bringing together most of Guy’s and St Thomas’ cancer treatment and research into one place, the centre is made up of a number of stacked ‘villages’ that each relate to a particular area of treatment - like chemotherapy and radiotherapy - and have been assigned a distinct colour. The way finding between these villages is aided through the contemporary arts installations, which are all funded by a £1.7 million Arts Programme that is curated and managed by Future City. Guy’s and St Thomas’ patients and staff have been at the heart of the Arts Programme, working with Future City to interview and select the artists and works for the new building.
Martens piece, Mountain, is located in the centre’s lift lobby and is inspired by Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, a novel which depicts a place of healing, relaxation and contemplation which is cut off from everyday life. Martens began by sourcing a selection of photographs depicting mountain landscapes and adjusted them in harmony with the distinct colours of the villages. These photographs were then transformed into patterns made up of coloured pixels that are placed on top of one another to create an illusion of depth. Pentagram's team worked closely with the patients and staff of the hospital to develop a suitable visual solution for Martens’ proposal. We then art directed the piece, which spans the lift lobby’s approximately 350 sq m of wall space.
“The subtle wisdom behind Karel's approach to this space, as well as seeing his unique graphic image at such a large scale brought a complete joy to our collaboration,” says Harry Pearce, the Pentagram partner leading the project.
In 2017, the contemporary arts programme that Mountain forms a part of won the prestigious international award for Interior Design and Arts at the European Healthcare Design Awards.