PATIENTS attending the newest hospital in Scotland may find themselves staring at a bath tub sprouting carrots or spaceships beaming spotlights onto a slice of toast.


The bizarre pictures are among a number of quirky images inspired by the memories of NHS staff and installed in the new South Glasgow University Hospital to help people remember how to find their way around.

They are among a wide range of art projects woven into the design of the hospital which it is hoped will not only stop people getting lost - but help patients recover from illnesses or cope with stress at difficult times.

Health board NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has unveiled the works with just weeks to go before the first patients move into the £840m building.

Jackie Sands, strategic arts and health co-ordinator for NHS GGC, said: "There are many studies which demonstrate that using therapeutic design and having artwork can result in patients taking less pain medication, less demand on nurses' time and better patient management. Patients, visitors and staff also report that psychologically they feel better."

Short poems have been etched into the pictures which are intended to work as landmarks, giving a little more insight into the tale behind them.

Retired speech and language therapist Mary Edwards shared the story of the day her family rescued a swimmer, who had lost her bearings, in their dinghy. They wondered why the bather was so reluctant to climb aboard, until she revealed she was skinny dipping.

Ms Edwards said: "I was happy to be involved with the art project but a little surprised to be chosen."

The picture, which wraps around a corridor corner, shows a boat and a figure reaching out, covered by a splash of water.

Ms Sands said: "Because the hospital is so huge and there are many treatments going on and departments functioning side-by-side it is hard for a patient or even staff to find their way around this building. There is plenty of signage, but it looks quite baffling. These landmarks lodge in your memory and stick far better than 'radiology,' cardiology' and other medical terms."

The adult hospital wards are spread across 11 storeys and art has also been used to help people tell each level apart. Every floor has been assigned a different landscape and this theme is reflected in the artwork chosen and even in the design of the floor number displayed in the lift lobbies. The ground floor is the "mineral" layer and from here visitors will rise to the coastline on two, past the islands on four to the forests, seven, to reach alpine, 10 and finally air.

Ms Sands said: "There is a lot of evidence to support the idea that if you have views onto nature or views of artwork showing nature it has a healing effect."

As the crackdown on hygiene to tackle hospital infections means gifts of flowers are banned in some hospital departments, it was also decided to use pictures to bring flowers back onto the wards.

An international call for artists to contribute to a collection of 100 flowers for the hospital was advertised. Those successful include Graham Fagen, selected shortly before he was chosen to represent Scotland at the prestigious contemporary art exhibition the Venice Biennale.

But there is also work by Ann McDines, a 73-year-old Glasgow care home resident, water colours by amateur artists and photos taken by teenagers who joined workshops in Gorbals.

Hospital staff can choose their favourite picture from the 100 flowers collection and apply to have a reprint for their department.

The budget for the art work was just under £1m, 0.12 per cent of the building fund, and this was boosted by £330,459 in fundraising.

Ms Sands stressed the cash had not been spent at the expense of jobs or medical equipment which come from a different budget.

In the children's hospital artists worked with patients and turned their words, patterns and drawings into a range of graphics which are stuck directly onto the walls.

There's even a cat, called Cale, who inhabits one of the wards.