TWO HEARTS 2015
Mirror Polished and Powder Coated Stainless Steel
4 x 4 x 2.5m / 13 x 13 x 8.2ft
Commissioned by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde for Gartnavel Royal Hospital to mark 200 years since the opening of Glasgow's first asylum in 1814. The final work is composed of two sculptures Sun and Moon, which sought to challenge the stigma of mental illness and Two Hearts which celebrates the love found in mental health care. Both sculptures were unveiled on the 27th May 2015 by staff and patients.
Two Hearts takes the form of a large red number 2 sitting upon a four meter square mirror polished plinth, with an over all height of 2.5 meters. The number 2 makes direct reference to the “2” of 200 years for which the work has been commissioned to mark. Rotated counter clockwise through 90 degrees the number 2, a normally familiar shape, is transformed into an unfamiliar new form. Mental illness can have a similar effect, since it can quickly transform the familiar into the unfamiliar, stripping away, temporarily or even permanently, all that by which we would normally be identified. Our own or a loved one’s loss of mental health can place us in the position that we become the unrecognised. The sculpture asks us to look again when dealing with mental illness. By rotating the number 2 Robb is suggesting that the 2 has fallen over, drawing a parallel with the common notion, or stigma, that a person with a mental illness can be perceived to have fallen. Robb stresses that the fallen number 2 has not lost any of its value it is still a number 2, in the same way a person with a mental illness is still a human being of equal value.
Robb discovered that the stigma associated with mental illness is the result of distance, disassociation and disconnection. Two Hearts offers, the viewer, a different experience of the work depending on the distance from which it is viewed. From far only the fallen number 2, is visible, but when viewed from close quarters a heart is discovered as the fallen number 2 is reflected in the mirror polished the plinth. Through this piece Robb makes the point that if mental health care is only ever viewed from distance then much of the love that exists within it today will remain forever unseen, which prompted him to celebrate the love he witnessed.
Robb spent six weeks at Gartnavel Royal Hospital with the aim of gaining an insight into mental health care and a better understanding of mental illness. The breadth and depth of the experience at the hospital combined with his research lead him to the conclusion that it was not possible to see 200 years of mental health care from one single point of view given the significant changes that have occurred since 1814. Robb proposed not one but two sculptures be placed within the hospital grounds at different locations preventing them from ever being seen together, inviting the viewer to travel across the hospital if they are to see the full commission; a metaphor of the needto adjust our point of view if we are to get a picture of 200 years of mental health care.
While each sculpture is a stand-alone work of art, they can be combined in the mind to create 200. Two Hearts use of a number 2 makes direct reference to the 2 of the 200, while the two zeros, of the 200 can be found in the circular shapes of the Sun and Moon sculpture.