Over six months in 2018 Khan-Dossos visited the Paediatric department at St Mary’s Hospital Paddington, holding workshops with patients in the Grand Union and Great Western wards, the Allergy and Out Patients departments and at The Showroom. Together, they thought about what colours they would like to see in the hospital: on the walls, the ceilings, the doors, and the furniture. These made a series of collages looking at the relationship between colours.

POLYCHROMY PLAYS is a functional colour palette generated from these discussions, collages and paintings, which can be shared and hopefully used in the future. It is made by giving the patients agency in their environment, and allowing them to imagine ways to improve the spaces in which they find themselves for short, long or intermittent stays. They better than anyone else know what it is like to spend time in these spaces and should be part of the dialogue about how to improve how they feel during their treatment. Colour has an important role to play in this discussion.

The POLYCHROMY PLAYS palette is not just the colours but also the names given to each shade. These include a wide range of inspirations, from inside and outside the hospital, feelings, foods, politics, and bodily functions. They are sometimes light and playful and sometimes transgressive and troubling, showing that it is important to involve the light and the dark sides of hospital experience as a more holistic way to look the reality of the environment.

The colours use the NCS reference system so that future designers and artists working in the hospital can work with the exact shades picked by the patients.

POLYCHROMY PLAYS is a collaborative project between The Showroom, Imperial Health Charity, and artist Navine G. Khan- Dossos, with the patients of the Paediatric department at St Mary’s Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Paddington. It is part of Imperial Health Charity’s Artist in Residence programme and The Showroom’s Communal Knowledge programme, which invites artists and other cultural producers to work with community groups, organisations and individuals from the neighbourhood towards collective, creative outcomes. Communal Knowledge is generously supported by John Lyon’s Charity.

With thanks to Kate Pleydell and Lucy Zacaria at Imperial Health Charity, Caroline Scott-Lang, Mando Watson, Lucy Underhill, The Play Team at St Mary’s, and Ab Rogers.