The Poppa Guttmann Recognition and Celebration Project
at The National Spinal Injuries Centre, Stoke Mandeville

The Arts Programme

Arts coordinator

In September 2012 Vivienne Gordon was appointed for a three year initial contract as arts coordinator for the NSIC. This exciting innovation has brought many opportunities for patients to explore the differing art forms and discover or develop their artistic talents. Vivienne has always worked in the creative industry as a graphic design and as a lecturer in art and design.

Creative arts workshops and “The Wall”

Creative arts workshops have been taking place including pottery, drumming, writing, watercolour, crafts, mixed media painting, photography and singing.

The patients in the NSIC have produced a quarter of a major mural “The Wall” as part of a project organised by the Henley arts festival. It was displayed at the festival in July after the successful launch at the NSIC.

NSIC art featured in an exhibition at the Obsidian gallery in Stoke Mandeville during the summer of 2013, 2014 and will again in 2015.

The Poppa Guttmann trust is enthusiastically funding all this activity but does not have a bottomless pit of money. As always we depend on donations from individuals and organisations and now that we have succeeded in initiating this arts programme we ask for continued and generous support.

Within The “Poppa” Guttmann Trust there is the important element of a long term ongoing Arts Programme. Poppa’s legacy of disabled sport lives on through The Paralympic Games and his statue will hopefully leave a further legacy of artistic talent.

Arts and health

The link between arts and health has been thoroughly researched as have the many and huge benefits achieved by it. There is a desire, approved by The NHS, to improve or initiate arts programmes in healthcare. However the NHS has not put money behind this. The Buckinghamshire NHS Trust is enthusiastic by backing the objectives of this project in order to observe its long term value to the personal benefits for patients and staff and the corporate benefits of a reduced length of stay and increased satisfaction with care.


In the case of Spinal Cord Injured people there is a need to recover self worth, use opportunities to discover what they can and wish to do and to improve or find a new talent. To many this Arts Programme will lead to a new pastime and to some to a new career.



Painting by spinal injured patient Michael Rogers (C4)


 A qualified Arts Co-ordinator has been employed and will liaise with visiting artists, university arts departments and art colleges to assist in this education.  These contributors will also benefit by understanding the needs and methods of teaching disabled people. It is intended that this Arts Programme will become a permanent and integral part of the rehabilitation of patients at the same time as them enjoying their spare time constructively. Information about how and where to continue art post discharge will be incorporated.


The varying fields of art offer very beneficial therapy in both physical and mental ways. The NSIC uses aspects of art in therapy but therapists are very limited with time and continuity. The intention of the programme is to use evenings and weekends to involve patients, friends, relatives and staff.


An initial “Big Draw” event brought consultants, doctors, nurses, therapists and patients together with fierce self inflicted competition as to who did best. It was a great “leveller” with many patients outperforming able bodied staff! It was a real confidence boost, through drawing, to those who otherwise thought of their limitations not their abilities.


One of the most difficult times for a newly injured SCI person is when they return home and often wonder what to do. Art and integration to community arts clubs and organisations could be invaluable for this vital transitional period and the future.


Development of this programme will improve and augment the patient experience and outcomes in comprehensive rehabilitation in a similar fashion to that of the use of sports as started by Poppa Guttmann but will appeal to those who may currently have no wish or ability to participate in sports as an outlet.

Michael Rogers painting using mouth stick



The Poppa Guttmann Trust
Charity Number: 1134644
©The Poppa Guttmann Trust, 2010
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