BGH’s new Margaret Kerr Unit is a work of art

Kate Downie in the middle of creating her charcoal drawing of Leaderfoot Viaduct as part of an art works installation in the foyer of the Margaret Kerr Unit.
Kate Downie in the middle of creating her charcoal drawing of Leaderfoot Viaduct as part of an art works installation in the foyer of the Margaret Kerr Unit.

SIX Borders artists have been bringing the new Margaret Kerr Unit at Borders General Hospital to life this week with their work.

The Unit, which will open its doors to patients early next year, is a specialist purpose built in-patient palliative care facility and the artists whose work will feature in it are John Berry, Kate Downie, Angela Hunter, Lindean Glass, Clair Norris and Keiko Mukaide.

After falling in love with the Leaderfoot Viaduct, Kate Downie, a landscape artist (pictured) has recreated this well known Borders landmark using pastels. Her work covers more than four metres of wall at the entrance to the new unit and is the first thing visitors will see through an expanse of glass doors as they approach the Unit.

“This is a cross over place,” she said.

“It’s a place where people cross the threshold from the outside world into the unit - a place that is secure and supportive. A bridge is like that so for me it’s an appropriate subject for this position. On each side of the bridge there are also glass doors which will reflect the bridge so it looks like it’s extending even further – back into the world and also into the unit.”

“It’s huge honour to contribute a work to this unit and also a huge responsibility - one I don’t take lightly.”

From the concept of a bridge, under which water flows, the river theme carries visitors from the entrance into the reception corridor (hub) of the Unit and to the work of Keiko Mukaide.

Along the corridor wall, Keiko has created a water pattern, broken up by coloured glass discs that reflect light and seem to float through the air.

“In this corridor I’m trying to create a subtle welcome, using water elements, that bring light and energy into the Unit,” she said.

“My father died from cancer, so as well as feeling privileged to have my work here, this is in memory of him.”

This flow of light and vibrant energy continues into ‘Lasting Impressions’, a mosaic of handmade tiles created by Jedburgh based artist Clair Norris which cover more than three metres of a wall within one of the Unit’s Day Rooms.

At a workshop earlier this year members of the public and NHS Borders staff came along to imprint tiles with fabrics and objects that have given texture to the art work.

Imprints ranged from leaves and jewellery to the inscription of names or pieces of music and poetry – all of which meant something very special and personal to those contributing to the art work.

The mosaic tiles will be built up into a number of hexagonal panels designed to flow across the wall of one of the day lounges within the new unit and their layout will hint at the Borders rolling hills and rivers.