Kids art helps promote healing in hospital

During a time of unprecedented change around the world, the power of art in hospital cannot be underestimated and it is this power that makes the 25th anniversary of Operation Art so special.

Operation Art is an initiative of The Children’s Hospital at Westmead in association with the New South Wales Department of Education and in collaboration with Sydney Olympic Park Authority, which involves school students in Kindergarten to Year 10 creating artworks that will help make sick kids feel better.

This year, more than 450 students from more than 135 schools across New South Wales will have their talents showcased in the annual Operation Art exhibition, which will be on display from 15 October until 15 November 2020 at the Armory Gallery, Sydney Olympic Park.

From the hundreds of artworks submitted, 50 artworks will be chosen to join The Children's Hospital at Westmead's permanent art collection and adorn the walls for patients, families and staff alike to enjoy.

Ivy Baddock, Art Curator at The Children's Hospital at Westmead, who has the difficult job of selecting these artworks, said the quality this year was of an exceptional standard.

“I am excited every year to see what the students have created for Operation Art and the impressive standard of work makes my job so much harder," she said.

"The artworks completed through Operation Art are some of the most popular in our collection. They offer patients and their families respite from the clinical hospital environment by helping to reduce stress, make our hospitals more welcoming and enhance spaces where quiet moments can occur.”

The artworks include everything from superheroes, to giraffes, to dragons, right through to still-life drawings and self portraits.

Heidi Windeisen, Operation Art Officer at the NSW Department of Education’s Arts Unit commented on the importance of the exhibition amidst a year of unsettling times for students and teachers in schools across NSW.

“Each year, teachers know they can inspire their students to create artworks for sick kids in hospital, to give purpose to their work and understand that visual arts can promote a feeling of joy to those who spend much of their time in hospitals. This year I felt it was particularly important to support teachers in participating in the program despite the new experience of online learning which we were all facing early in the year."

It is really exciting to see the artworks which have been created by students this year under these new circumstances. Many of them have created their artworks at home with only materials which were readily available to them, and many have created works as a direct response to their own experiences of isolation. It will be a very special exhibition this year!” Heidi said.

Tony Nesbitt, Sydney Olympic Park’s Manager, Events and Activation said the exhibition is also a central part of Sydney Olympic Park’s program of events and activations.

“We’re all about working collaboratively with our partners to host programs like Operation Art at Sydney Olympic Park.  The Armory Gallery provides an extraordinary setting for this exhibition, and allows us to share in this celebration of the imagination and capacity for empathy of young people from throughout all of NSW,” he said.

The exhibition will officially open on Thursday 15 October. To allow for social distancing measures, there will be no opening ceremony this year but the exhibition will instead launch in an exciting opening video. Keep an eye out for this on the Operation Art Facebook page.

Operation Art will be open daily from 10am - 4pm from 15 October until 15 November at Amory Gallery, Sydney Olympic Park. Entry is free.