How a secret art garden has blossomed at Denmark’s biggest hospital – The Post

How a secret art garden has blossomed at Denmark’s biggest hospital

An oasis awaits patients going through cancer treatment at Rigshospitalet

(all photos: Lars Krabbe)
May 9th, 2019 7:02 pm| by Anna Terp

A secret garden has blossomed at Rigshospitalet, the biggest hospital in Denmark. The therapeutic garden, which is intended to create a space of recreation for patients going through cancer treatment, is a smörgåsbord of colours, sound and light.

The transformation
Where there was once a dull, white staircase leading down to the corridors where patients receive radiation therapy, you now enter an artistic creation brought to life by painter Maria Dubin, composer Frederik Magle and light designer Kim Borch.

Together they have created an immersive experience: a ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ for employees, patients and visitors to enjoy. Already before descending the staircase, painted glass panels welcome to a different kind of hospital setting than the usual one.

The colours on the walls as well as the flower blossom on the ground are signed by Danish-American painter Maria Dubin. Her colorful artwork lights up the staircase with nuances of green, yellow and blue – colours carefully mixed by the artist herself.

On the walls and ceiling, light designer Kim Bork has created meditative light installations that resonate with the ceiling window, allowing for daylight to enter the space.

At the bottom of the staircase, two green chairs invite the visitors to sit down and enjoy a piece of music, ‘The Secret Garden’, which has been composed especially for the space by composer Frederik Magle and recorded with the Symphony Orchestra Faculty of Arts of Niš in Serbia.

Magle describes his composition as being uplifting and light, but also melancholic and thoughtful at times. The hope is to create an oasis for the listener.

Creating a haven
More than 250 cancer patients undergo radiation therapy in the department every day, and the well-being of these patients has been the motivation for redecorating the staircase.

It is part of a bigger plan to create little spots of art and light in the hospital. How can the classical white hospital become more open and welcoming to patients and relatives? ‘The Secret Garden’ is the answer to that question.

The project was developed in collaboration with cancer patient Louise Malene Lindstrøm, who has contributed with ideas during the process. She says that the art installation gives people the feeling of being in a whole different universe – a place where illness seems far away.

At the opening on April 12, hospital employees from the United States, Germany and the Netherlands came to visit and experience the artwork.

The trio (see below) behind the installation now want to create more secret gardens around the world for the pleasure of visitors, relatives and employees.

Kim Borch, Maria Dubin and Frederik Magle