Can art and design improve public wellbeing? Or help regenerate a city? In her ten years as director of Vital Arts, the arts and health organisation for Barts Health NHS Trust, Anne Mullins worked to establish the link between culture and health and curated the public arts strategy for the £1bn PFI development at The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel and the new Barts Hospital in the City.

Healing space
The Anne Riches Healing Space (activity space) designed by Morag Myerscough, the Royal London Hospital, 2013. Photo: Gareth Gardner. Courtesy Vital Arts, Barts Health NHS Trust

Under her creative leadership, Vital Arts won numerous awards for its use of art and design to improve the patient experience – and saw a range of artists and designers from Cornelia Parker to Morag Myerscough (above) make new and exciting work for the hospital environment.

Healing spaces at the Royal London Hospital
Francoise Dupre, Flowers (Bonne Mamans) 2012. Courtesy Vital Arts, Barts Health NHS Trust

Since leaving the organisation last year, Mullins has brought her skills to the Nine Elms Vauxhall Partnership, the group responsible for transforming an area of London that spans Lambeth Bridge to Chelsea Bridge, as its curator of arts and culture. Working alongside two councils, the developers, Transport for London and the Greater London Authority, the job of establishing the cultural vision for this major regeneration project could not be in better hands.

The Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel
Ruth Claxton, Nests, 2012. Courtesy Vital Arts, Barts Health NHS Trust

Prior to taking on the directorship of North Kensington Arts in 2001, Mullins’ experience as a commissioner of site-specific works was already evident across projects for the National Maritime Museum, Canary Wharf and Islington International Festival, while her work on the Art in Sacred Spaces exhibition for the Arts Council’s New Millennium Festival in 2000 saw ten leading artists create new work for diverse places of worship across east London. Consistently, she has shown that placing – and discovering – art in unexpected places can have all kinds of benefits.

Seating area at The Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel
Darren Almond, Full Moon Series, 2010. Courtesy Vital Arts, Barts Health NHS Trust