Alexandra Reinhardt at the Menier Chocolate Factory

The Menier Chocolate Factory Gallery has become the new home of the Paintings in Hospitals charity and is hosting an exhibition of work by the late and thoroughly remarkable Alexandra Reinhardt.

Miss Reinhardt was the UK's first case of a particularly vicious type of Anaemia called Diamond Blackfan, which she was diagnosed with when admitted to the hospital at only nine weeks of age.

She spent a great part of her life in hospital, including the entirety of her first 16 years. Still, she wasn't free of the illness with her release from the hospital.

Alexandra had to undergo regular blood transfusions among many other painful procedures, but she began expressing the great pains and discomforts she endured through art.

As she once said, “I created huge sculptural collages, using all the needles and equipment that I had to endure while I was having my transfusions. It was a massive relief to vent my frustrations into a piece of work.”

The artist felt that other patients in hospital should be able to experience the same relief in a way, even if not through art of their own.

That is where the Paintings in Hospitals charity comes into the picture. This organisation, like Miss Reinhardt herself, believed that hospital patients needed more than drab walls and pastel colours.

The charity has been providing works of art to hospitals since its founding in 1959, and Alexandra had donated many of her works to the cause.

The exhibition displays many of this marvellous woman's works, including those very sculptures that she produced from her medical leftovers, as well as a series of beautiful oil paintings, which display a newfound zest for life fond in her twilight years.

This exhibition is also the start of the Alexandra Reinhardt Memorial Award, which will be awarded annually to fund the winning artist in the creation of two new pieces, one for the charity, and one for an NHS hospital.

This exhibition will be at the Menier Chocolate Factory until Friday 25 February.

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