The Art of Portering: guided tours of artwork from porters at St Thomas’

Porters are extremely important members of staff at Guy’s and St Thomas’.

A man in a wheelchair being pushed through a corridor of paintings by another man
Porter Francis O'Rouke, with patient Michael Tavener

They help look after patients by transporting them around, as well as carrying blood samples, equipment and many other items that need moving around a busy hospital.

With the help of your donations, the porters at St Thomas’ are part of a special project which has enabled them to select artwork for the corridors they travel the most and learn about the pieces so they can talk to patients about them as they escort them around the hospital.

The Art of Portering

Francis O’Rouke is one of the 100 porters working at St Thomas’ Hospital.

‘We know the fastest routes to the departments but many of these long corridors are not used very often by the public so they just have plain white walls,’ he says.
Francis and the rest of the portering team voted for their favourite pieces of artwork and chose the locations for the new displays.
They worked alongside Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, Breathe Arts Health Research and poet, Simon Mole, to curate special displays along the corridors they use most.
‘The Art of Portering project has brightened up our most walked routes and given us something to talk to the patients about,’ says Francis.

‘Some people are anxious about being in hospital so chatting to them about something unrelated to their illness can put them at ease. We’re often asked about the historical pieces of artwork because patients are usually fascinated with the history of the hospital.’

Helping patients feel at home

The artworks seen across the Trust are owned, managed and cared for by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity. Projects like The Art of Portering are possible thanks to your donations, helping patients, visitors and staff feel at home in the hospitals.
69-year-old Michael Tavener was one of the first patients to see the unique display of artwork on his way to the X-ray department.

‘It’s a great idea, says Michael. ‘On the way to my appointment we had to wait for the lift so it was really interesting to learn about the different pieces of art. Anything that makes the place look a bit brighter can only be a good thing.’

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