ISLAMABAD: The landscape photographs of forests and woodland glades taken by David Anthony Hall exude a powerful sense of calm and well-being.
It made perfect sense therefore, when more than 50 of Mr Hall’s large-scale prints were selected by the Marie Curie charity for display at its £20m hospice in Solihull, where every day patients and their families struggle to come to terms with terminal illness.
The charity says Mr Hall’s work, most of which he donated, has a therapeutic effect on patients, staff and visitors, providing what Lady Cotton, special project leader for Marie Curie, described as “a constant source of pleasure”.
Hall?s shot of a forest in the Abruzzi Mountains Photo: David Anthony Hall
Indeed the photographs are born out of Mr Hall’s personal experience of cancer.
While visiting his birth father Tony at a hospice before his death in 2007 at the age of 72, Mr Hall – who was adopted - began to feel increasingly oppressed by the bleak surroundings. That feeling was compounded when his birth mother Moira died in 2011, at the age of 60, also from cancer.
He said: “I wanted to do something to help change that rather grim atmosphere, to make it easier for people to visit their loved ones in these institutions and to make the environment better for the patients and the people who work in them.”
Mr Hall began donating the proceeds of some of his pieces – which are up to 20 by 10 metres in size and can fetch up to £25,000 each - to a number of cancer charities, in the hope he could help transform some of the institutions used by terminally ill patients.
David Hall's work displayed at the Marie Curie hospice in Solihull Photo: David Anthony Hall
As a result Marie Curie approached him and asked him to submit a series of photographs on the theme of the four seasons for the new flagship hospice, which was opened by the Prince of Wales in 2013.
Mr Hall, 46, a former commercial photographer, chose trees as a central subject because of what he calls their power as a metaphor for society.
“Trees to me represent individuals and families standing together, but each with their own space,” he said. “Trees are at the root of all life on the planet. And after all, didn’t we all – as descendants of apes – come down from the trees?”
Mr Hall, who lives in Boston Manor, west London, has now launched a scheme which would enable fellow artists to loan, rather than donate their work to hospices and hospitals. The scheme would give the artist the option of selling the work at a future date – thereby not depriving them of a living – while still benefiting patients and staff.
“I want my work to create an atmosphere that is not just welcoming and calming, but also cathartic, which is what being close to nature can achieve,” he said. “Florence Nightingale noticed early on that bringing nature into places where patients were being treated had a positive effect on them and I hope I’m doing that with these photographs.”