A unique arts exhibition celebrating the 70-year history of the NHS has been unveiled in Leicester before embarking on a county-wide NHS roadshow.

Paintings, sketches and poetry feature among more than 60 pieces of work now on display at the Attenborough Arts Centre on Lancaster Road, in Leicester. The work was created by mental health service user artists who attend the ArtSpace arts project, based at The Attenborough Arts Centre. The project is delivered by Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (LPT) in collaboration with BrightSparks: Arts in Mental Health Group.Artists worked with participatory artist Scott Bridgwood to produce the works on display, with
funding from Attenborough Arts Centre and the University of Leicester.They are now displayed as a ‘walk-round timeline’ celebrating key highlights of the 70-year
NHS story, including:

  • Its creation, through the vision of its creator, the health minister Aneurin ‘Nye’ Bevan
    who inaugurated the service on 5 July 1948 in Manchester
  • The development of the first polio and diphtheria vaccinations a decade later
  • The birth of Louise Brown, the first ‘test tube baby’ in 1978
  • The launch of NHS Digital in 1998
  • The creation of the first ‘walk in’ centres in 2000

The exhibition was opened by Michaela Butter, Director of the Attenborough Arts Centre, as part of a special celebration event, with specially commissioned performances of poetry and music also taking place.

Tim Sayers, one of LPT’s arts in mental health co-ordinators, said: “We’re proud of the quality of the work on display and the positive perception of mental health that the exhibition will inspire in visitors as it tours its different venues.”

The exhibition roadshow will move to the Bradgate Mental Health Unit on 1 July, where it will form one of the central features of NHS at 70 celebrations by LPT. It will then transfer to the reception area of Westcotes Health Centre in the city, with a smaller satellite exhibition at the Evington Centre on
the Leicester General Hospital site.

Plans are also in hand for the exhibition to transfer to the Leicester Royal Infirmary where it will be mounted as a long-term display in the hospital’s well-known long connecting corridor after the NHS at 70 celebrations.