INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
The Guardian APRIL 18, 2013 - by Mark Brown
SURGEON PRESCRIBES BRIAN ENO TO PATIENTS
Hospital installs room designed by godfather of ambient music after doctor observes calming effects on mother-in-law
When orthopaedic surgeon Robin Turner heard how serene his normally fidgety mother-in-law was when she visited a Brian Eno installation at Brighton festival a flashbulb went off in his head.
The results of that were revealed on Thursday: a hospital quiet room created by the godfather of ambient music where patients can "think, take stock or simply relax", and an Eno light and music piece in the reception of the new £34,000,000 private Montefiore hospital in Hove.
Turner approached Eno after going to see the artist's audiovisual installation 77 Million Paintings at the 2010 Brighton festival. His mother-in-law also went, said Turner, and "she is normally very fidgety, you can't pin her down; the phrase we use is that she goes at a million miles an hour with her hair on fire. She went in and was there for two hours, which is unheard of. It was proof that this has a calming influence on people".
Eno said he was thrilled at the collaboration: "It seemed a natural step for me to take as I've been dealing with this idea of functional music for quite a few years."
It was the first time, he said, that he had been able to practise his belief that music can be made that deliberately affects mood. "I've met many women who have had children listening to one of my records so I knew there was this dimension and here, in the last couple of days I've met patients and staff who have said, 'I really like that room, it makes a big difference'."
Turner said they intend to examine any physiological changes to people in the Eno room - pulse, blood pressure, anxiety and so on - and there was anecdotal evidence this week when a cancer patient came out and began telling Eno, not recognising him, how wonderful it was. "He wanted a copy of that room at home," said Turner. "The scientist in me says that's not very scientific but the human in me says that makes it all worthwhile."
Eno, who produced for acts such as David Bowie, Talking Heads and U2 after he left Roxy Music in 1973, hopes more hospitals might follow. "I'm so thrilled with having done this and I think it is helpful to people, I really think it's useful. And the good news is it isn't expensive or require sophisticated technology."