Students create safari scene for sick children

Four students from Sussex Downs College in Lewes have created a vibrant wildlife mural, specially commissioned by Rockinghorse Children’s Charity for the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital (the Alex) in Brighton.

Lydia Duursma, Felix Scott, Jasmine Corkhill (all aged 18) and Jamie Hildick-Smith (age 17) are studying for an Art and Design Diploma at Sussex Downs College’s Lewes campus. Together they designed, drew and painted the safari scene for the Critical Care Ward on Level 8 of the Alex.

Having met with hospital staff to discuss the project and guided by their tutor James DiBiase, Lydia, Felix, Jasmine and Jamie set about their task to brighten up one of the corridor walls on the ward. It took the group six days to create the colourful piece which has filled the space with character to become a real talking point.

The result is a wonderfully vibrant display of wild animals set against an African sunset backdrop. The murals centrepiece focuses upon a family of elephants bathing themselves in a water source, overlooked by zebra, antelope and giraffes.

Making the most of the space between the ceiling and floor, the bottom half of the mural features a selection of origami style animals set within geometric and abstract shapes. The paintwork on the lower half of the mural has been mixed with sand to create a textural finish so patients can feel the safari scene as well as enjoying it visually.

James DiBiase, Course Leader of the Art and Design Diploma at Sussex Downs College, says: “This is the third year running that Art & Design Diploma students from Sussex Downs College have designed and produced a truly outstanding mural for the Alex. The students worked with a strong level of professionalism, engaging in the whole process with positive energy, enthusiasm and high levels of creativity.

“Felix, Lydia, Jasmine and Jamie have created a beautiful mural that has received clear praise from the staff and patients of the ward, as well as Rockinghorse who have once again generously funded this project.”

Student Jamie Hildick-Smith commented: “It’s been a great experience and a lot of fun to work with Rockinghorse and the Alex on this project. It is so rewarding creating a mural that has received so much positive feedback and support, and all for a great cause. I hope it has really brightened up the hospital.”

Janet Lee, Children’s Critical Care Practitioner at the Alex, adds: “The mural has really brightened up the corridor in Children’s Critical Care. Children and families usually enter the ward for the first time along that corridor, and it is a warm, friendly start to their stay with us. The bright, bold geometric designs at the bottom of the mural are perfect for babies and toddlers to explore.”
Rockinghorse is the official fundraising arm of the Alex, raising money for life-saving and cutting-edge medical equipment whilst ensuring that children are treated in an environment better suited to their needs.

To find out more about the charity and the work they do to support sick children in Sussex, visit