How do you feel when you have to go to the Hospital and stay in a waiting room for some time looking at an empty wall?
How would you feel if instead of that neutral wall of information, you found a big picture with colours, or a photograph of someone looking at you? Would it be indifferent to you, or would it make a difference?
What do we do with our senses when it's pain or worry that takes us to the hospital?
I met Pedro and Francisca on the same day. First Pedro, a few minutes later, Francisca arrived. We were recording a video to welcome new students arriving at the Faculty. Sensitive to contact with those who come across him, I chatted with Pedro and then I realized that he had several projects going on at the Faculty, in parallel with the fact that he was in year 4 of the Integrated Master Degree in Medicine. In addition to the surf group he has in partnership with Nova, where he teaches surfing to those who want to start the sport, he also spoke to me about his passion for art and how it could heal.
Then Francisca arrived, passionate when talking and so spontaneous that her northern accent grew as much as she let go at the opening ceremony. She even hesitated whether she should pursue Fine Arts as her main academic career, but the good grades made her challenge herself and apply to the Medical Degree, where she met Pedro, in the same year.
In a brief exchange of ideas, I realized that they had a clear idea of what they wanted to do, they just lacked the opportunity. Then they met the Clinical Director Luís Pinheiro, who was also a former student at the Faculty.
Thus, the first step for the Curarte (Healart) project to materialise was announced.
The Faculty's arts group consisting only of students, Curarte was born in 2020 and intends to bring art to Santa Maria and Pulido Valente Hospitals.
“We feel the need, more than medical care, which we are still learning, to give people the appreciation that we have for art, and within our skills, we wanted to take a step along this path", Pedro Fava explained, on the day when he met for the first time with the Hospital's Communication Advisor, Pedro Marques
“There is enormous potential in decorating these walls and we have the advantage of being Medical students and having a better understanding of the needs of hospitals, thus bringing art to the Hospital", he continued.
“The intervention would be done Service to Service, only after finishing one ward would we move on to another. If we started with Psychiatry, we would send a message of our own, such as serenity”, added Francisca Borges. “The art must be suited to the Service and the pathologies of that place. Afterwards, each room would have a sub-theme, but throughout the Service there would be thematic continuity that would be done through painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, written poems, or according to any other need", she continued, as she rose spontaneously, gesturing.
With an outlined work plan, the idea will be, first, to meet with the teams from each Clinical Service and listen to the spaces and needs of the teams themselves, then propose to artists who have inspiration to create something subordinate to the theme already agreed upon in advance.
Artistic freedom does not overturn, however, the guiding line of a story that one wants to tell. As it does not intend to offend the senses, it was planned to be subtle in the building, with no change in the normal functioning of routines. No alteration is being planned regarding architectural structure, nor collision with the works of buildings.
As a nurse and assistant who walks beside the patient along the long hospital corridor, art may come to do it in parallel, while both observe each other in a new interaction that can range from distraction to rapport.
But teams also need to appeal to their own emotions and senses, as they are the ones who reside in their own workplace and who end up always being forgotten when talking about their own emotions and tireless resilience.
Humanizing the Hospital is one of the main goals of this team, initially only made up of Medical students, Francisca Borges and Pedro Fava, who found in Pedro Marques a worthy ally to give some comfort to those who enter fragile and lose themselves in the vastness of endless corridors.
Pedro's first step was to propose the idea to the Board of Directors and Clinical Board. The project was approved at once. Then a new meeting at the Hospital was proposed, with a room full of people who make up the Hospital's Humanization group. This group was appointed by the Board of Directors of the Northern Lisbon University Hospital Centre. Doctors, lecturers, head nurses, and other persons responsible for logistics and works in both Santa Maria and Pulido Valente Hospitals, make up the team that assesses which projects can be feasible and positive to humanize the lives of patients within their hospitals.
On the 8th floor, with a sunny view pointing down to the queues waiting for Covid testing, the room seems to be cosy and to meet the initial purposes. This balance between the experience of what has been failing and what has been resulting is maintained, with those who still have the will to have dreams for a greater good. The two hours have meant a healthy exchange of ideas and intentions to turn desires into actions.
All the art works will be created and placed in such a way that they can be properly sanitized, thus continuing all the care taken so far with the disinfection and protection of patients and teams.
After the first brushstroke of imagination and will, already supported by Leroy Merlin, the first encounter with a concrete Clinical Service and the emotional creation of the work will follow.
At this time, and still without giving examples of the image of what they will be able to create, Curarte already has around 80 subscribers for the free execution of the works, mostly medical students. There are also external people with other professions wanting to collaborate.
The first healing work has already started, with the people who have embraced this project. It will soon help many others. The goal is only one, helping, healing others. For a greater cause, that of everyone.
Follow Curarte, get inspired, and maybe you can get to work too!