Thursday, 17 October 2013

National Hospital for Neurology, Queen Square WC1

Above the doors at each end of the 1937 extension of the National Hospital for Neurology are low relief panels by A.J.J. Ayres, tutor of Sir Anthony Caro.
On the right, a pair of hands emerge from the sun to proffer a rod of Asclepius, a snake wrapped round a staff, to a reclining woman. 
The symbolism is very rich. The sun indicates Apollo, who was also god of healing. Asclepius's snake is usually shown in a stiff formal pose but here it is writhing and the woman is patting its head - all a bit odd.
On the left-hand doorway, a bunsen burner heats a retort, with a lot of test tubes and scales, just like the stinks lab at school. An open book has a quotation from the 19th century American reformer, abolitionist and educationalist Horace Mann. A hand turns the page, and it is easy to miss that the hand emerges from a cloud and is therefore, presumably, God's.

1 comment:

Hels said...

Interesting! Both my husband and I worked in London hospitals years ago, but I have never heard of the National Hospital for Neurology. I thought that perhaps the hospital has been built _since_ we left London, but no.... the low relief sculpture is from the 1930s.

Actually the sculptures look wonderful but the cream brick building looks a bit ordinary.