The Art of Portering

A collaboration between Breathe Arts Health Research, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, and wordsmith and poet Simon Mole. The Art of Portering highlights the Charity’s fine art and heritage collection through the eyes of the portering team.

The project has informed an art display at St Thomas’ Hospital, with artworks specifically selected by porters and now displayed in areas they navigate through several times a day. The process has also introduced the portering team to existing artworks and their rich history, introducing new talking points to use as they escort patients across the hospital.

A hospital porter is involved in almost every situation in our hospitals. They travel long distances every day, supporting patients and staff as they journey through our sites. Uniquely, at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, those journeys often take them past many extraordinary pieces of art or history. Guy’s, St Thomas’ and Evelina London are homes to one of the largest and oldest collections of fine art and heritage in hospitals in the UK, with 4,500 artworks that date from the early 1500s. Over 800 artworks from this collection, owned and managed by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, are on display within St Thomas’ hospital alone.

Breathe Arts Health Research and Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity spent time with the portering team to explore their connection with the artworks. Through sharing insights and historical knowledge, we worked together to create a special display along the porters most walked routes, connecting a unique team with a unique resource, bringing both to the foreground and unveiling relationships between these professionals and the artworks in their path.

The art works can decrease patient’s anxiety and make them feel much happier about being here, that will make the process of whatever procedure or test they are having much easier. It also gives a really good conversation topic, so they can carry on the conversation when they go to the department that they are going to.

Julie Hamilton, Director of Nursing, Guy’s and St Thomas’

Download our map to see where you can find the display, read the porter’s reactions and take a moment to think about their vital role in connecting our services and facilitating patients’ journeys.

Check out our short film below: