The British artist Bridget Riley, best known for her colourful ‘OP Art’ paintings and prints has created a 56m-long mural for a corridor at St Mary’s Hospital in London. The painter stated that she didn’t want the mural to play too many tricks on the eye and that it was to remind the patients and visitors of a visit to the seaside and have a calming, soothing effect.
The painting, executed in acrylic is part of a series comprising two others by Riley situated on the 8th and 9th floors of the hospital. They were produced in 1987. St Mary’s hospital revealed that the work was created ‘by the generous support of the artist’. Riley said; “I designed the new mural to be ‘an undemanding presence’ and also to be able to sit alongside notices, directions and fire extinguishers”. She added, ‘This new hospital commission does not have quite the same objectives as my other wall works – those are composed or drawn for specific sites or walls of a particular dimension’. ‘The hospital corridors are different, they embrace the whole space: they aim to lift the spirits and to remind one of life outside the hospital, while in no way interfering with the essential activities of the hospital as it goes about its business.’
Riley was born in 1931 in Norwood, London. She was the daughter of a businessman. She studied at Goldsmiths’ College from 1949 to 1952, and at the Royal College of Art from 1952 to 1955. She began painting figure subjects in a semi-impressionist manner, then changed to pointillism around 1958, mainly producing landscapes. In 1960 she evolved a style in which she explored the dynamic potentialities of optical phenomena. These so-called ‘Op-art’ pieces, produce a disorienting physical effect on the eye.