Paint a smile for children in the hospital

Silvio Irilli, the artist who turns hospitals' pediatric wards into magic.

02 Jan 2020

It's not just an art project, it's magic!

For seven years Silvio Irilli, one of the most appreciated and respected artists in the international contemporary art scene, has been devoting his life to his most cherished project, Ospedali Dipinti, to bring smiles to all those in hospitals.

It has transformed over 1300 square meters of the whole Radiotherapy Department of the Policlinico Gemelli Hospital in Rome, bringing an image of joy to the whole Department of Pediatric Radiotherapy of the Ruggi D'Aragona Hospital of Salerno, transformed into an enchanted wood the corridor of 140 square meters of the Regina Margherita Hospital in Turin, set in an aquarium in Novara Emergency Room.
But let's let him tell us, let's leave the word to Silvio ...

How you became an artist?

When I was a child, they asked me, "What do you want to do when you grow up?"

I always answered: "The painter!"
And they: "No, I mean what job?!"
My answer did not change.

I had a dream, to paint my emotions and they could reach as many people as possible.
Today, after almost 30 years of career, I live in that dream and I am happy and proud that my art can work well for people in need with their health.

How was Ospedali Dipinti born?

In 2012, the Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome called me to paint the aquarium for a corridor of the oncological radiotherapy bunker. Patient feedback was so important that other hospitals started contacting me. I thought we needed a project dedicated to this sector: the first name I thought of was immediately Ospedali Dipinti. It had to have a fundamental basic concept: the works had to be made only with donations, involving people and companies, but above all it had to be a project to be made available to Onlus, Foundations and private individuals who wanted to donate a painted department to avoid spend a single penny on hospitals.

Today the project is making the rounds of Italy and the Facebook page, with over 50,000 followers, has become a meeting point for patients who write to me beautiful messages, often touching, and people who respond by wishing them so much courage.

What is the goal that you propose with this beautiful initiative?

I am thinking about the transplant department of the Monaldi Hospital in Naples, where a child or a teenager must be attached to an artificial heart, a machine that breathes for him and keeps him alive and where he sometimes waits for someone to come the compatible organ for him.
How many baths in the sea loses?
How many football games can't do?
How many waivers?
For them, thanks to the donations, I painted a 20-meter long aquarium in the corridor to bring an environment that helps them to face the days with the smile of the dolphins, the serenity, the colors of the sea and that can give them the hope of returning to a normal life.

I think of the children who have to do oncological radiotherapy in Gemini A.R.T., to whom, again thanks to donations, I painted a submarine with seabed. The children, when they return home, the first thing they say is: "Mom, Dad, when are we going back to the Gemelli submarine ?!"

This is the goal I wish also for the Isola del Sorriso for the Messina Polyclinic: to keep their fears away and to make a patient's dream continue even in a hospital!

How much work is behind every single painting?

Each project is not just a decoration. It doesn't have to be just a beautiful painting for its own sake. It must become an emotional journey and for every work there are hundreds of hours of work, research. Moreover, due to logistical problems and timing, it is not possible to carry out the work on site, but it is all carried out in the studio and then, in a few days, as if by magic, the department is transformed with environments and scenarios that make the patient travel in another dimension.

Why crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding is a great opportunity for those who want to realize a dream by involving and sharing a project with the free contribution of people and who recognizes their merit and transparency. Furthermore, it allows you to give good visibility and make your project known not only online. Painted Hospitals goes very well with crowdfunding because the works we produce are all made exclusively with donations, which allow hospitals not to spend a penny and have a department full of imagination, color and hospitality.

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