By Liz Crudgington
An artist whose life was saved by medics at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate has donated five huge artworks to say thank you.
Shane McCoubrey spent four weeks in Seabathing Ward at the hospital while staff battled to treat a life-threatening infection.
During his stay, he noticed the corridors and waiting rooms felt bare and vowed to create artwork to brighten them up for staff and his fellow patients, adding inspiration and colour to public spaces.
Shane, who lives in Margate, uses local sand and tiny fragments of plastic he finds on the beach to create his work, alongside precious materials like gold leaf, diamond dust, crushed sea glass, and paints he makes from chalk rockfalls. It is layered with resin to create a 3D effect.
One of the pieces is on display near the microbiology department; a team Shane believes were key to his recovery.
He said: “Microbiology put so much work into finding the correct combination of antibiotics for my infection, nothing seemed to work.
“I’m allergic to penicillin so it narrowed their choice, but they put things together that had never been tried before and came up with what they termed ‘the Domestos of antibiotics’ to kill my infection.
“Dr Glass worked so hard there and I felt it was an isolated part of the hospital that no one thinks about so I wanted to help brighten it up.”
Another piece is on the main hallway to Seabathing Ward, while others are on display on the main thoroughfare through the hospital.
Shane said: “I saw the workings of a great hospital close up, from cleaning to nursing to doctors, and everyone was smiling and optimistic.
“But the waiting rooms and corridor needed colour and life, and I felt they needed a feeling of wellbeing that could inspire people to appreciate art and what it does for us all.
“Being in hospital is never a great experience and it can be stressful, so I hope the artwork helps brings some colour and comfort.
“I contacted the Trust from my hospital bed and it is wonderful to finally see the project come to fruition.”
Shane’s work forms part of a new art trail at the hospital, including a limited-edition Damian Hirst piece named Rainbow Butterfly gifted by the Heni Gallery.
Turner Contemporary in Margate also shared six pieces celebrating the theme of space and Margate’s long history of creativity.
Sanjivan Kohli, head of development at Turner Contemporary, said: “Throughout the pandemic, the gallery has continued to offer free access to art and culture, maintaining a space open to all the community, promoting wellbeing, encouraging debate and inspiring new ways of seeing and thinking.
“Sharing art with the hospital during lockdown meant the gallery could offer new ways of delivering its charitable aims, helping even more people benefit from having access to world-class art in the local community.”
And leaders at Global Generation Church in the town donated a print of Banksy’s work Game Changer in recognition of the work of the hospital’s staff during the pandemic.
East Kent Hospitals Charity funded the exhibition of all the work and the pieces were unveiled by outgoing Trust chief executive Susan Acott, who said the gift of art was truly special.
She said: “Our experience of Covid has caused us to re-evaluate the world around us and given us an opportunity to reflect and think about what is beautiful and what we value.
“We received so much support from our communities in the first wave, with gifts of everything imaginable, from snacks to hand cream, scrubs to Easter eggs, but knowing people want to share something as beautiful as art with us is truly fabulous.
“Our corridors are very long and they can feel very uninspiring, and thanks to these generous donations they now feel a lot more welcoming and I know it will be appreciated by everyone who sees the work.”