Fabulous new Maggie’s Centre opens in Oldham

We are lending some items from our collection to the new Maggie’s Centre, which opens this week at the Royal Oldham Hospital. Sandy Nairne is the Chair of Maggie’s Art Group and former Director of the National Portrait Gallery. Here Sandy tells us more about the centre and some of the art which you will find there.

“The building of a new Maggie’s Centre at the Royal Oldham Hospital offers a good moment to consider what we expect from healthcare buildings and what part art can play. For most of us, lucky enough to live in a country with a national health service, what we want first are buildings that are well-equipped, efficient and support their staff – whether nurses or specialist consultants – in doing their work well. Maggie’s Centres are no different, except that their purpose isn’t clinical but crucially to offer information, help and advice to those with cancer, and those supporting people with cancer.

It is paramount in a Maggie’s Centre that anyone can walk through the door, feel immediately welcome, be greeted and offered a cup of tea, and then given the chance to explain what help they may need – something which, initially, they may not know. At the heart of every Maggie’s Centre is a kitchen table. And Maggie’s Oldham, designed by De Rijke Marsh Morgan (dRMM), is like all other centres in this respect. But none of the others has a tree growing right through the centre of the building, and this is the first to be constructed in hardwood cross-laminated timber (CLT), sustainably sourced from American tulipwood. And a wonderful feature of the new Maggie’s Oldham is a garden space running under the building.

As Chair of the Maggie’s Art Group, I am very aware that good art should complement the beautiful new buildings that are created as Maggie’s Centres. And I am therefore very pleased that a special collaboration with Gallery Oldham is allowing some lovely ceramic pieces and a suite of prints by the British  printmaker, Julian Trevelyan, to be loaned to the new Centre. They will greatly enhance the new building and provide a perfect example of a public collection fulfilling its role to reach new audiences. The collection across all the Maggie’s Centres includes works donated from the estate of Eduardo Paolozzi, as well as featuring artists as diverse as Bridget Riley, Antony Gormley, Grayson Perry and the works of Norman Cornish that form a set of special loans from the University of Northumbria collection to Maggie’s Newcastle.

Over time I hope that the Maggie’s Centres Collection will grow, and be enhanced with works by artists who care like everyone else about helping to make important places that can offer vital support to people with cancer.”

Sandy Nairne

Chair, Maggie’s Art Group