This short video shows the opening of the King's Mill Hospital heritage project on 4th July 2008.
We designed 6 murals and 10 giant banners, to hang above the murals, to be displayed along the entire length of the new King’s Treatment Centre. The KTC ‘street’ will link the whole of the new hospital and with 9m high walls and an opaque domed roof structure, provide plenty of natural light for a dramatic large scale artwork.
Stories of the US Army hospital had a distinct hint of glamour during the hardships of wartime Britain, and the visit of film star Clark Gable to the hospital gave us a spark of inspiration. We decided to base the design for each of the 10 wall hanging banners on the design of a movie poster from the corresponding period. The history and heritage of King’s Mill Hospital would be portrayed in the 6 detailed murals situated at eye level.
A strong feature of the new King’s Treatment Centre frontage was the use of bold blocks of coloured glass and we recognised that this was a feature that could provide a visual link in our displays. We knew that each subject area would need to be clearly defined and decided that we could use vertical bands of colour to structurally separate them. For each display we have chosen a colour scheme which links with the wall banners above them and befits the era depicted. Finally, to add visual scale and dramatic impact we added a life size photo to each display. The photos are of people relevant to each era with a range of occupations - images of interest that most people could easily relate to.
The general idea was to create 6 displays which are dramatic and eye-catching from a distance and full of interesting detail when viewed close-up. The first display and corresponding banner traces the history from medieval times to pre 1940s. The subsequent 5 displays and banners each depict the history over approximately 2 decades.
Working with the hospital’s History Project Committee, the entire project took us over a year to complete. We met on a monthly basis at the King’s Mill Hospital to edit and collate all the new information they had obtained and for them to see and approve all stages of design.
The official opening day with a special 1940s themed dedication ceremony was held at King’s Mill Hospital, on Friday 4 July 2008, the American Day of Independence. This also coincided with celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the National Health Service in Britain. A former US soldier and a Mansfield GI bride were invited from America to be guests of honour at the launch. People featured on the mural were flown in from America and those who were unwell due to age were interviewed at the BBC in Washington. The local BBC featured the hospital and its American guests every evening in the week leading up to and including the event. There was extensive coverage in the local press and also in local newspapers in America.
The event on the day included many volunteers dressed in the style of the 1940s, the award-winning Skelmanthorpe Brass Band played, and there was Jitterbug dancing by the Festival Swing Dance Society to a medley of well-known 1940s Big Band tunes performed in the main thoroughfare, or ‘street’, at the King’s Treatment Centre.
Towards midday everyone went outside to view the flypast of a 1930s Harvard American military aircraft which was used by the Royal Air Force.