The poet, the hospital and the heart 

14/02/2012 00:00 

It's Valentine's Day today, and for The Heart Hospital the festival of love is relevant for more reasons than may immediately be apparent.

Liane’s superimposition of Elizabeth Barrett Browning at 50 Wimpole Street

Liane’s superimposition of Elizabeth Barrett Browning at 50 Wimpole Street

Apart from the obvious link with the heart, the building on Wimpole Street was once home to one half of the most romantic couple of the Victorian era, the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning lived at 50 Wimpole Street from 1838 until 1856. She was an invalid who spent much of her time in bed, suffering from an irregular heart beat and turning into an opium addict after she was prescribed the drug to cope with pain from a spinal injury.

She fell in love with the poet Robert Browning after a long correspondence but they had to marry in secret and elope to Italy since Elizabeth’s father was strictly against the match. Mr Barrett himself remained at the house at Wimpole Street and never spoke to his daughter again.

The romance between Elizabeth and Robert Browning has been the subject of many a treatise but their link to The Heart Hospital is so full of irony that it has attracted the attentions of the artist Liane Lang who has been given access to create animated film and sculptures that weave the stories of love and loss, romance and heartbreak within the corridors and wards of a modern hospital.

Liane uses everyday objects that become strange and ambiguous, giving a ghostly presence that makes itself felt. She is currently filming at The Heart Hospital and is now putting together her video installation entitled Heart House, which takes its cue from the deeply romantic history of the building located at 50 Wimpole Street which now houses a number of consulting rooms and The Heart Hospital's Outpatients Department.
The Heart Hospital is one of the major cardiac centres in the country, offering dedicated, specialist care. At the forefront of national and international research, thousands of patients benefit from our cutting-edge diagnostic and surgical techniques.


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