The Art of Distraction is a new exhibition being held as part of the Melbourne Design Week to showcase how art in the built environment can bring joy, delight and hope when faced with obstacles.

Curated by leading Australian architecture and interior design practice, Bates Smart, which continues its association with the Melbourne Design Week, the exhibition explores award-winning illustrator Jane Reiseger’s work at The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne.

The Art of Distraction, which will run from Friday, March 26 until Saturday April 1, 2021, showcases a special collection of original drawings and pieces by Reiseger, with the curated display not only illustrating her creative process but also providing an insight into how her ideas were transformed into the hospital’s eight key themes, inspired by local Victorian environments.

“It celebrates the critical role art plays in the healing and treatment process in healthcare settings and how art can elevate one’s experience from their immediate reality,” says Mark Healey, Bates Smart studio director, who collaborated with Reiseger during the hospital’s $1bn redevelopment in 2012.

Given the particularly challenging year that was 2020, the collaboration explores how we can shape caring environments that foster a supportive community in a world of uncertainty, as we navigate the pandemic recovery and move towards a state of COVID-19 normal.

Reiseger and Healey will jointly present the installation as a multi-layered experience either in person at Bates Smart Gallery or virtually through a fully immersive digital experience accessible via

“The drawings are all about sending you on your own little journey,” Reiseger says. “It’s the idea of bringing nature in, and the way this can relieve you and bring more lightness, wellbeing and happiness.”

The artwork on display showcases birds, animals, flora and fauna that have become large format murals and art pieces. Having grown up on a farm, Reiseger drew a wealth of inspiration from her childhood as well as visits to various Victorian locations. Personal objects including a book by artist Paul Klee and a red enamel cooking pot belonging to Reiseger’s grandmother are also part of the exhibition.

“Jane’s work is so successful because it has an innate ability to connect with such a wide audience irrespective of age. The use of her drawings as the basis of wayfinding strategies and clinical distraction ensured that art was integrated throughout the hospital more holistically,” Healey says.

Reiseger’s playful, semi-abstract art has the ability to bring joy, create distraction, influence behaviour, improve recovery rates, and support wellbeing at the children’s hospital.

The exhibition will be open Friday 26 to Saturday 27 March and Tuesday 30 March to Thursday 1 April 2021, from 11am to 5pm at the Bates Smart Gallery located at Ground Floor, 1 Nicholson Street, East Melbourne (entry off Albert Street).