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P-52  Our living wall – art, fun, stories and feeling connected
  1. Sabine Schwaebisch
  1. Helen and Douglas House, Oxford, UK


Our Living Wall (OLW) is a communal art wall at the heart of a children’s hospice. We wanted to see whether a wall like this could impact on the happiness of children who visit.

We created a huge wall made of large removable jigsaw pieces. Children and their families, with staff help, take a piece and make it their own, through paint, stickers, images, etc., before putting it back on the wall. All pieces are photographed; next to the wall and online is a rolling exhibition of past pieces. When the wall is full, the child/family can take their piece home or it can be recycled.

We are acutely aware of the challenges faced by these children (limited chances to play, lack of control, low self-esteem, limited social connexion) and wanted to respond to these in a fun and creative way. The intention is for OLW to be as inclusive as possible, accessible to all children (0–18) with life-limiting conditions, regardless of age, ability, illness or background.

Our Living Wall has been up and running since April 2015, with over 100 pieces created so far.

We have tested the logistics of OLW, the best ways to create, exhibit and share works, learning a lot about practicalities (materials), as well as processes (photography, storage, consent).

We also tested the impact of OLW through observation, group reflection, feedback cards and interviews. Initial findings suggest OLW had a positive impact, enabling children to have fun, build positive relationships and develop a sense of self and belonging. We also saw a powerful impact on families, including bereaved families.

We learnt a lot about happiness (and sadness), and about all kinds of connexions. OLW changes all the time, as children take it in new and exciting directions. We feel that OLW is transferrable to other settings.

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work noncommercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:

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