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Maitland stories featured in NSW Health’s largest artwork

Friday 29 October 2021

One of the largest scale paintings commissioned by NSW Health has just been completed at the $470 million new Maitland Hospital Development. 

The artwork created by leading artist Peter Poulet, is a major feature of the hospital’s foyer and has been inspired by stories from Maitland locals about the region, the river and the old Maitland Hospital. 

Health Infrastructure Arts Program Director, Brigette Uren said the painting, measuring almost 180 square metres, will welcome patients, visitors and the community with a magnificent representation of Maitland and its people for many years to come.  

“The community will be captivated by this colourful artwork, which will create a vibrant and welcoming space as you enter the new Maitland Hospital,” Ms Uren said. 

“The painting is also one of the largest public artworks in the Hunter Valley, giving this world-class health service a unique and distinctive identity. 

“Integrating art, storytelling, dance and music into our health facilities is important, and research proves that the role of the arts in health settings promotes healing and provides a better experience for patients, staff and visitors.” 

Artist Peter Poulet spent time in the local community listening to stories about what people felt was special and important to them about the hospital and local area.  

“Some of these stories were about major events in the town’s history like floods where the water level rose to the awnings of the buildings in the main street; others were about the existing hospital’s past and the role it played in people’s lives, like women holding up babies to show to husbands and partners through the window in days gone by,” he said. 

“It highlights the important role that doctors and nurses have in this community, who have cared for people over generations, and will continue to do so in this new state-of-the-art facility. 

“These human stories were turned into abstract images that depict the heart and spirit of the people and this place in a way that makes this artwork uniquely Maitland.  

“I also wanted to create an artwork that had an element of fun to it and be something people can relate to, so they’ll feel more at ease when they visit the hospital.” Mr Poulet said. 

The bright colours in the painting reflect the blue of the Hunter sky and the dry summer grasses. Familiar patterns and shapes have also been included, including the river running through the landscape and folding of the hills.  

The entry foyer artwork was commissioned by Health Infrastructure’s Arts in Health program in partnership with Maitland City Council, hospital staff and community representatives.  

The new Maitland Hospital will open to patients in 2022 with detailed planning to support the move well underway. It will include a new chemotherapy service, as well as a new emergency department and expanded surgical theatres, maternity and paediatric services.  

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