Mike Hammer

A Bold Artistic Vision for the New West Park

When was the last time you found yourself entranced by a beautiful work of art? How did you feel? Inspired, calmed, uplifted?

These feelings are what the Campus Development team at West Park hope to evoke with the art strategy for the new hospital. With more than 300 spaces for wall-hung art throughout the building, patients, staff and visitors will have a chance to experience artworks by local, Canadian, indigenous and international artists, as well those done by West Park patients.

Fourteen of those pieces have been donated by internationally acclaimed Toronto artist, Mike Hammer. His art is bold and distinctive, marked by bright colours and dramatic patterns. The pieces coming to the new hospital will fall into four themes; blobs, spirals, stripes and textured monochromatic pieces.

Mike’s gift is valued at an estimated $150,000, making him a member of the Founders Circle, which recognizes individuals and organizations that have donated $100,000 or more to the Get Your Life Back Campaign to help “found” the new West Park.

“These vivid, striking pieces are sure to provide inspiration to those on their journey to recovery and independence,” says Joanne Cole, CEO of West Park Foundation. “We are grateful to Mike for gifting us these beautiful paintings that will be enjoyed by so many for decades to come.”

Susan MacDonald, West Park’s Operational Readiness Partner, knew instantly that these pieces would be a beautiful addition to the hospital. “I was immediately taken by them. I can look at the blobs and just lose myself in them. You see something different each time you look at them,” she says.

Striking examples of modern art, the pieces are a labour of love, with the blob works taking about three to six months to complete, as Mike pours out acrylic paint onto a wood panel then waits days or weeks for it to dry before he can add the next layer of paint. The final product is finished with a gloss varnish.

Mike hopes that “a patient might choose to sit in the same chair every day to look at a piece that they particularly like. Like going outside to look at a tree, perhaps some people will get inspired and come back and look at it often and just get lost in it.”

Susan is looking forward to the impact the art will have on patients. “At the end of the day, our philosophy is, if an art installation gets a patient out of his or her room or paintings take a person’s mind off their pain or lowers their stress level, then the art isn’t just decorative anymore, it’s part of the entire model of care.”


This profile originally appeared in the Fall 2022 edition of Giving Lives Back. Click here to read the full newsletter.