Jeremy Schrecker's Life Spring and Bedrock at Hammersmith Hospital. A patient's poem
Hammersmith Hospital began as a Poor Law Institute. Each day the male inmates broke up rocks for roadmaking as a contribution for their night's accommodation. For almost 90 years the massive lump of granite left behind in the Labour Yard has been carefully preserved by the hospital.
Jeremy Schrecker was born 1962 and graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1988. In 1989 the Hammersmith Hospital Arts Committee commissioned him to set this stone in a small area overlooked by the corridor to the new Phase I of the rebuilt Hammersmith.
The sculptor supplied the text for the legend at the window looking onto the sculpture:
"This was the piece which they found unbreakable. The stone now lies in peace here, at the centre of the hospital site,
midway between the old and new buildings."
Jeremy Schrecker created and constructed the setting, the water symbolizing the flow of healing powers from the heart of the hospital.
The Japanese sculptor Isamu Noguchi wrote:
"A stone is that from which we come, Is that to which we go back,
It is the earth itself."
Soon after the sculpture had been installed Alex, a patient about to have a major heart operation, saw the sculpture and wrote two poems. These are reproduced here, with his permission and that of the sculptor, because there are so few published comments by patients on works of art which have been commissioned, donated, borrowed or bought by hospitals to try and make them beautiful for patients, staff and visitors.

Dear Jeremy,
Here goes.
I am on my way to meet my Maker maybe. Perhaps frightened and apprehensive.
But for all that - amazed to find myself still alive. Walking through the corridors of the hospital.
And then a window onto a different world. What is it?
What is going on here?
Rock? Mirror? Water? Stone?
Walls? Well?
And the man? Prometheus?
Amputated from each other by the pane of glass. A world of silence.
Then Helen with utter simplicity opens the leaves of the glass just by pushing a lever.
Fresh air. The man who seems to be deep down wrestling with some problem looks up.
We discuss the various ways we saw the world over coffee.
Over a period of seven days a new world began to dawn. I entered the twilight worlds between life and death. Before entering and after leaving I held the Rock in my mind. Maybe you could say the Rock held my mind.
Seven days later I looked at the world anew.
It had come together.
The Rock was now two. Warm and cold.
My mind saw a meteorite so dense and heavy it seemed. Yet it floated above the moving water!
Total Zen.
And yes healing. For me a part of my new being in the world. Art was muscling-up and making-out in the new world. Even Prometheus was looking happier.
He didn't look like a statue any more.
He'd had a shower!
Looked quite different without the grey white dust over him.
And a new question occupied my mind.
If he is Prometheus am I Hercules?
Anyway Mon Ami I think of you as one of my first friends in this new world.
Long live Jeremy. Long live Art.
And I like your Brother Marius the Magic Flute Man. Looks like a man who might be into Chess and Snooker.
Surely it helps for you to know that your creation might
well have helped me through pain and despair? ,
And might well help many more ... I reckon ... Be well.

Dear Jeremy
I read the letter and found myself weeping.
Thank you for helping too.
And there seems to be so much more.
The work must stand for all time. It is a seminal work.
Have been dreaming of your white walls. On the right where the observer stands
a thin thread snaking towards the opposite wall ending in a tunnel-like semi-circle.
It is probably just the graffiti-artist in me.
But seriously I see your space as a happening. The birds will come and drink and bathe.
Seeds will fall and green will grow into rainbows.
My friends tell me I am a Jay-Bird when it comes to colour ... still not sure if it is a criticism or a compliment.
Dust will thicken and become moss will spring flowers to crown the rocks.
Maybe my job should be to be The Mirror Man? Keep it highly polished at all times!
That way I could keep an eye on things. Make sure the window is always clear.
The thing about resolving a situation is the feeling of ever being on the edge ... but not quite.
I often find myself emerging from the work to find myself a stranger to what some would call the mundane world.
Traffic arguing and snarling crawling
and screeching frustration.
And goodness gracious the moon is full!
So many people.
I think you Stone Men must be world changers. Hammer and Chisel.
Faith can move mountains but don't forget your Hammer and Chisel.
What about drumming?
Never met the sculptor who wasn't into drumming.
Maybe when you come next we can have a drumming rap. Sculpting sounds.
For myself I am torn between the ear and the eye. Enjoy sound making as much as shaping colours.
Anyway ... I think there is so much more. Be well.
(Accepted 15 October 1991)
 
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