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2006 02 09
Idea Bank - Margaret Atwood, Healing Paintings
Healing landscape paintings in hospital recovery rooms

Given that:

• Health care costs and hospital bed spaces are an issue

• There are a lot of folks who get pleasure from amateur landscape painting

• In Edmund Wilson’s book The Future of Life, there’s a throwaway bit about landscapes. People in hospital recovery rooms with the right kind of view out the window, or barring that the right sort of landscape painting on the wall, heal an astonishing six times faster than other patients. The requirements are specific:

The view should be as if from a gentle hill. There should be trees around, but an unimpeded view down over the landscape. There should be a lake or gentle river below. It should be sunny but with some clouds. The time of day should be @ 10-11 am or @ 4-5 pm (i.e. not dark and not blazing noon). It should be spring or summer.

(I’ve done this from memory but interested parties could look it up.)

This is what we find peaceful and healing – Wilson says because that’s what we would have liked as hunter-gatherers – fertile, water, promising weather, possibilities of plants and animals, good view so we would not be surprised by predators.


Why not put hospitals and amateur landscape painters together in a project that would supply healing paintings to the hospitals? (No toxic paints of course.) Fun and helpfulness for the painters, and if Wilson is right, reduced costs for the hospitals.

Painting by Claude Lorraine
[email this story] Posted by Margaret Atwood on 02/09 at 01:36 PM

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