In 1982, Norfolk artist David Poole approached the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital with a scheme to donate artworks to brighten and give points of focus to the long and unfriendly corridors of the Hospital. His generous offer was enthusiastically taken up and a committee of hospital staff was created to support him.
David became the Hospital's first official artist and his work ultimately formed the basis of the Hospital Arts Project as we know it today. His philosophy of painting, the people he admired and the way he worked suited the hospital environment as these extracts from his book Norwich Sketches show.
'Whatever form the creativity takes … it can surely only be fragmentary. But for all that the sight or sound; the awareness of something movingly meaningful from the hand of a fellow human being is nonetheless wonderful.'
'Pedalling past the home of Leslie Davenport a great inspiration to any would-be city artist. He could be seen working outside in pretty near all weathers scrubbing away at one of his vigorous chalk drawings.'
And again '… coming alongside the houses to be drawn I would set up my easel which had survived the vigorous (bicycle) ride. Because of the length of time I expected to spend on the spot, I had a folding stool, very low but very appreciated. With a preliminary key sketch, to give me help in composition, scale and so on, accomplished; I pressed on to the full-sized drawing.'
During David's time at the Hospital he spent much time drawing and painting from life on the wards which he greatly enjoyed. '… and gently regret that I cannot break off what I am doing and set about some sketches of an interesting head. On the other hand, occasional inspired diversions are invaluable to keeping a better sense of experimentation and development. One of these days I must take my sketch pad into the café.' Instead of the café, he chose the wards.
David also wrote poetry which he combined with many of his artworks as can be seen from his publications
David became a well known and respected character at the hospital during his time of working not only for his artworks but also because he was interested in people and enjoyed interacting with them.
Since moving to the new site of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, all of David Poole's artworks have been framed and are now located throughout the Hospital in many of the Outpatients Waiting Areas. These are easily recognisable for anyone familiar with his artwork.