top of page

Holding Space |'all around me, my gathered star’|Sutapa Biswas (Hauser & Wirth X Hospital Rooms)

‘Silver green against dark navy

Swallow me whole

And spit me out’

An expanse of blue that is equal parts deep and equal parts bright. One that fills the space with colour, uplifting you, yet also draws you into its depths and says so many things beyond the surface of first appearance, with deep layers and layers of meaning.

I walked into the large, well-lit space of Hauser and Wirth’s North Gallery and my eyes were drawn to the mural on the walls. It seemed like something out of my dreams, the dreams of childhood, where imagination was unrestricted, and there were no bounds upon the breadth of possibilities. The night sky is full of wonder and a site of fascination for children and adults alike. It symbolises unfathomable futures and, most crucially, keeps hope alive.

Sutapa Biswas’ mural ‘all around me, my gathered star’ is the mural that inspired these reflections for me. It is on display with many other colourful and interactive artworks for ‘Holding Space’, the second exhibition in a series of three at Hauser and Wirth, produced in collaboration with mental health charity Hospital Rooms. Hospital Rooms began in 2014 with the aim of transforming in-patient mental health facilities into inspiring spaces that allow for healing and positivity. Over the last few years, they have been able to commission multiple renowned contemporary artists to create works for psychiatric wards across hospitals and organise artist workshops with patients. Hauser and Wirth have now collaborated with the charity, and together they hope to raise 1 million pounds to go towards funding projects and helping alleviate mental health struggles. The auction is being supported by Bonhams, and it will take place on the 12th of September, to raise funds for Children and Adolescent Service in Sandwell at Black Country Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

This year, contributing artists consider the theme of the ‘Holding Space’. The title evokes a sense of care, comfort and patience that aligns with the broader purpose of the initiative. What does it mean to ‘hold’ space? How can we hold space for others? How can we hold space for ourselves? When I think of ‘holding’, I think of hands coming together, side by side. When I think of holding, I think of a warm embrace of bodies. When I think of holding, I think of time spent listening. Holding space, both physically and metaphorically. Because holding space, whilst evoking physical comfort and warmth, should also extend to psychological and emotional space, which is less tangible but equally if not more important.

Biswas’ mural speaks to the theme in the visual form it takes as well as in the processes of creation. The mural comprises painted blue walls covered in a pattern of over 20,000 hand-painted stars of varied shapes, sizes, and geometries. The stars form a cartographical canopy of sorts on the walls, acting not only as a ‘background’ but also appearing to embrace the other works, holding them and bringing them together. The work is an intricate labour of love, but also time taken. It is partly inspired by a Giotto Mural at Scrovegni Chapel and was originally created in 2022 for a psychiatric ward at Springfield University Hospital in South London. In the hospital, it occupied a long, vertically oriented atrium wall and encouraged anyone crossing to tilt their heads and look up. Biswas also held a workshop with patients at the OCD clinic at the hospital prior to beginning the mural, where they all painted the night sky together. She administered the workshop but also got feedback on the mural design in order to collaboratively develop it with those who inhabited the space.

Holding Space is on display at Hauser and Wirth until 12 September. In addition to this mural, the other works on display spark joy, hope, care, beauty and togetherness all at once. Contributing artists include Valerie Asiimwe Amani, Sutapa Biswas, Victoria Cantons, Rachael Champion, Giles Deacon, Alvin Kofi, Katharine Lazenby, Richard Mark Rawlins, Jonathan Trayte, Richard Wentworth and Abbas Zahedi, as well as Hospital Rooms Lived Experience Team, National Opera Studio with South West London Recovery College Students. Find out more here.



bottom of page