Questions For Niamh White and Tim A Shaw, co-founders of Hospital Rooms | Limna

Questions For Niamh White and Tim A Shaw, co-founders of Hospital Rooms

Curator Niamh White and artist Tim A Shaw discuss their work at Hospital Rooms, a charity that radically transforms in-patient mental health hospitals by bringing together artists and patients. Find out about their journey through the art world and the artists you should keep an eye on.

How did you get started doing what you do?

Niamh: I began my career behind the front desk at Hauser & Wirth. It was a steep learning curve and a huge eye-opener into the world of contemporary art.

tim-a-shaw-and-niamh-white-square.jpg Curator Niamh White and artist Tim A Shaw, co-founders of Hospital Rooms.

What’s the first artwork you ever bought?

Tim: The first artwork I bought was a Phyllida Barlow drawing. I was in my mid-twenties and was working as a freelance art technician at the time. I bought the piece from Hauser & Wirth with some money I’d made from the sale of one of my own works.

What’s something you wish you knew when you first started in the art world?

Niamh: It took a while to grasp the eco-system of the art world, how museums, commercial galleries and artists are all interrelated and reliant on one another.

What’s the most misunderstood aspect of the art market in your opinion?

Tim: Environmental sustainability. Things are moving in the right direction, but much more thought needs to go into every aspect of the way artworks are produced, stored, shipped and installed.

Which painter are you currently really excited about?

Niamh: Victoria Cantons’ portraits are extraordinary. They are palpable records of trauma and healing.

Victoria cantons.jpg Victoria Cantons courtesy of Hospital Rooms Photography Tim Bowditch.

What upcoming exhibitions are you looking forward to?

Niamh: I haven’t seen Alice Neel at Victoria Miro yet. They’re showing portraits of the same sitters side by side, from different times in their lives. It will be fascinating to see how she related to those figures and how the paintings relate to one another.

What’s the last art-related Instagram post you liked or account you followed?

Tim: I just liked the recent Hospital Rooms insta post about our new term of our Digital Art School. Valerie Asiimwe Amanu and Molly Bonnell from the team are also great artists and are leading sessions this term.

Valerie Asiimwe Amani.jpg Valerie Asiimwe Amani

Tell us about an artist who should be getting more attention.

Tim: Sutapa Biswas. Her work is often breathtakingly beautiful whilst being unapologetically disruptive and critical of the disgraces of society’s past and present, often being a powerful voice of those who are marginalised. She has been an influential artist and teacher, and has been exhibited widely since the important Lubaina Himid curated exhibition The Thin Black Line at the ICA almost 40 years ago. The last 12 months have seen Sutapa starting to get the recognition she deserves for the last 4 decades of her practice, with major shows at Autograph, Baltic, Newlyn and Kettle’s Yard. I hope this leads to wider recognition of her past and future work. We (Hospital Rooms) have just been working with Sutapa on an artwork for a new mental health hospital in South London.

What’s the best piece of art-world advice you’ve ever been given?

Niamh: In the beginning, get yourself in proximity to the people you admire the most. Make their tea, do their admin, whatever it takes, and then absorb everything.

Sutapa_Biswas_ Womens_Lounge_Photo-JenniferMoyes.jpg Sutapa Biswas, Women’s Lounge. Photo: Jennifer Moyes