Creating a quiet room to collect your thoughts at Worthing and Southlands hospitals

Barnham-based textile artist Polly Meynell is making major lockdown contributions to both Worthing and Southlands hospitals

Polly with her Southlands work
Polly with her Southlands work

She has contributed artwork to multi-faith spaces in both – spaces which cater for everyone across the religious spectrum and also for those without a faith but who feel the need for a quiet room to collect their thoughts.

She has already installed the work at Southlands Hospital and will be doing the same soon at Worthing in their new chapel space. She expects it to be in place this spring, perhaps May.

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“It can be so difficult to find a quiet private prayer space which is something which has been so deeply needed not only for the patients, but also for the staff, just to have a place to collect their thoughts and to be calm in this horrible situation we are in. All they could find in Southlands was a room, like an office, off a corridor which faced onto a quad area. There wasn’t really anything special about it at all.”

Polly’s task was to come up with the special something it needed – that special something conducive to its new purpose: “My task was to make it feel more contemplative.”

She came up with an abstract design which appears to be on silk and which hangs in front of the window: “You get the light coming through it and the idea is that, in the spring and summer with the window open, the breeze will lift the light-weight fabric and make it waft through the air.”

Polly has taken inspiration from Worthing’s setting, incorporating the sea and the Downs: “And with this beautiful wafty fabric, it will give the impression of being outside… of bringing the outside in.”

Polly is pictured with one of the three full-length panels for the prayer room: “I also installed two monochrome landscape images of the South Downs and coastline by local photographer Alan Frost to accompany my work. They complement each other very well, my work being full colour and abstract and his being black and white but very detailed of the local area.”

There are further panels in the lobby room. Important is the fact that it is a facility for people of all faiths but also for people who have none: “It is somewhere people can go whether they have faith or not. At Worthing Hospital, they are just finishing off their very much larger chapel room space. It is the same idea as Southlands with washing facilities in the lobby but a much bigger room. I have visited it virtually, but it is still under construction, but I am going to have some work in there in a similar vein. I am in the process of doing it at the moment. I expect it will be there in spring, perhaps May – similar work to Southlands.”

It is all work Polly is delighted to do: “It will be a bit of a network, I suspect. I have been working in this area for quite a while, and people tend to know about me. They just got in touch and asked if I would be interested in doing something for them and so I came up with the design.”

Polly makes bespoke textile artworks for individuals, private homes, public buildings and sacred spaces.

She has a created large-scale banners, wall hangings and panels in addition to bespoke robes and costume for special events, theatres and public buildings. She has also designed for red carpet actors, theatrical productions, bishops and cathedrals.