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A photo of four of the colourful, soundwave-inspired artworks hanging on the wall.

Architect, artist and 2023 PhD graduate at Edinburgh College of Art, Dr Xuechang Leng has worked with Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) to create artwork for care homes that were significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The project is a collaboration between Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership and Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland, where Xuecheng is on a placement as Artist in Residence. It aimed to create a permanent testament to staff resilience during the pandemic. 

Xuechang ran workshops with staff and residents in five of Glasgow’s care homes, with Tommy Whitelaw, National Lead for Caring and Outreach at Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland. They gathered reflections about staff and residents’ own unique experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic through pledge cards.

Xuechang used these reflections to create the artwork, capturing the most common words shared by staff about what is important to them, such as ‘love’, ‘care’, and ‘family’, and represent them as soundwaves. 

Xuechang said: “I am filled with profound gratitude and an overwhelming sense of privilege as I embark on the creation of these artworks. 

“These art pieces hold a special significance, reflecting the nurturing care provided by the staff to the hearts and souls of the residents and their beloved family members at home.  

“The colours infused within these artworks produce intricate meanings, drawing inspiration from the staff's unwavering dedication, boundless compassion, enduring love, and unyielding resilience, especially during the trying times of the pandemic. 

“I must acknowledge the tremendous effort of Tommy Whitelaw, whose presence has graced each step of the artistic process. Tommy, a source of inspiration and motivation, has infused the creative endeavours.”  

A lasting legacy 

Tommy Whitelaw, who led the care homes artwork project, said: “It was such a privilege to spend time with the incredible care home staff who dedicate their lives every day to residents, families and their colleagues.  

“Through hearing their stories of kindness, love and care, and with the amazing vision of our artist Xuechang Leng, we were able to translate this experience into a beautiful project that will leave a lasting legacy for staff and residents.” 

The artwork has been put on display in public spaces within each of the care homes, to be enjoyed by staff and residents of the homes alike, and as an everlasting dedication to staff. 

Art to reflect moods and uplift lives

Xuechang obtained his doctoral degree in Architecture in July 2023, at Edinburgh College of Art’s Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA). His thesis was titled Architectural Color and Power: A Case Study of the Summer Palace, Beijing (1750-1912).  

He works with teams and individuals to develop pieces of art and sculpture that reflect moods and experience. He specialises in working with therapeutic spaces that are meaningful to users and staff and has significant knowledge of people living with dementia. 

“I am intrigued by the use of colours in the contemporary built environment and how they can positively impact people's lives, especially in the context of health care environments.  

“I've developed a profound historical consciousness regarding the role of colours in influencing human experiences, which has ignited a desire to harness the power of colours to enhance people's lives. The project in Glasgow provided me with an opportunity to fulfil my desire and granted me a firsthand experience of how colours within healthcare settings can genuinely uplift the lives of residents, staff, and visitors alike.  

“This practical endeavour not only reinforces the importance of my research but also serves as an inspiration for further explorations in this fascinating field.” 

Watch the short film 

The HSCP has produced a short film that follows the development of the concept for the artwork with staff, to the final artwork which will be displayed in each home’s public spaces.  

It also features how care home staff supported one another, residents and their families during the pandemic. 

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