George Hospital in the Western Cape has been recognised internationally for its fight against COVID-19 and using art to uplift the human spirit. The Balcony Bands Mural Project shows the coming together of people during the pandemic. The art reflects those who serenaded their neighbours from their balconies with music and song during the height of lockdown.
We’ve all heard stories from around the world about the balcony singers and musicians who entertained their neighbours during lockdown. The George Hospital has paid tribute to them in the form of several murals. The multi-panel design is based on real-life stories, and was painted by around 40 staff members.
The facility was recently presented with an accolade for showing the resilience and true spirit of frontline workers. The mural will be viewed for years to come as it’s a reflection of 2020 and its harsh challenges. Lodelia Odendaal is a George Hospital staff member who added her creativity to some of the murals.
“I think to be part of the painting it really felt that you were part of a bigger course and that you gave back something. It was also nice just to relax and to think about everything that we went through the past six months. So it was just very nice to be part of this bigger picture worldwide.”
The award was given by the Foundation for Hospital Art, an organisation dedicated to involving patients and volunteers worldwide to create soothing artwork for hospital patients. Dr Nellis van Zyl Smit says the project really helped uplift the spirits of staff members who were feeling the stress of the pandemic.
“It’s everyone coming together and making a difference to this pandemic. And the fact that we were able to stand together and work together. And we people from different backgrounds, we couldn’t have done it without management, cleaners, radiography. There is so many people involved in this cog to make this wheel spin. So I think what we’ve learned is that if we stand together we can achieve a lot.”
George Hospital CEO Michael Vonk, says the creative output also helped support his staffs’ emotional well-being.
“2020 has been an incredibly difficult year for everybody in the world but particularly health care workers. They’ve on a daily basis had stories of tragedy as you see members of the public and even colleagues pass away, but also amazing stories where patients have recovered from this virus. And this project is an opportunity to step away from that front line to experience a different reality, to express their creativity and really work towards their emotional well-being.
Five other hospitals in Italy, Brazil, Iraq, Australia and the United States, were also presented with the same award.