The amount the NHS spends on supporting us as patients throughout our lives, from cradle to grave, is visualised in a massive and interactive art installation on show later this week at the BMA’s headquarters in London.
The Long Run, a 9 m long series of marble runs, invites users to reflect on what the NHS provides for them in different parts of their lives.
The installation is made up of medicine cabinets filled with test tubes, syringes, and surgical gloves. Urine bottles velcroed to the floor will catch the marbles.
Each cabinet represents an age group, and the length of time the marbles run is proportional to the average NHS spend for that age group.
The installation is the brainchild of artists working out of Goldsmiths, University of London, in collaboration with The BMJ and the BMA.
The team - Tom Chambers and Theo Papatheodorou from Random Quark, a creative technology studio, and artist Jessie Wolpert - inject some fun into the visualisation by using coloured marbles as well as building the runs from medical equipment.
“We specialise in playful experiments with technology, and for this piece we’ve used 3D printing and laser cutting to create precise shapes,” says Chambers. “It was a chance to make something fun; that’s our mission as artists. It’s also an opportunity to build something that will be used by lots of people. We want people to enjoy it and to have a nice moment appreciating the data behind it.”
BMA treasurer, Dr Andrew Dearden, said: “We are delighted to be able to mark the 70th birthday of the NHS by displaying such an inspiring and innovative piece of art work at our headquarters here at BMA house.
“The artists have done an incredible job of showcasing the importance of the NHS and the varying role it has played for people throughout each stage of their lives - a testament to its profound and enduring impact since 1948.”
The installation will be in place for the NHS’s anniversary on 5 July and will remain until 3 August.