The Showroom

Navine G. Khan-Dossos: POLYCHROMY PLAYS

POLYCHROMY PLAYS was a collaborative project between The Showroom, Imperial Health Charity, and artist Navine G. Khan- Dossos, with the patients of the Paediatric department at St Mary’s Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Paddington.

Polychromy Plays

Over six months in 2018, artist Navine G. Khan-Dossos held workshops with patients in the Grand Union and Great Western wards, the Allergy and Outpatients departments at the St Mary’s Hospital, as well as at The Showroom. Together, they made a series of collages looking at the relationship between colours, and thought about what colours they would like to see in the hospital’s walls, the ceilings, the doors, and the furniture.

POLYCHROMY PLAYS is a functional colour palette generated from these discussions, collages, and paintings, which can be potentially used in the future. It was made by giving the patients agency in their environment, and allowing them to imagine ways to improve the spaces in which they found themselves for short, long, or intermittent stays. They, better than anyone else, know what it is like to spend time in these spaces and should be part of the dialogue about how to improve the way they feel during their treatment. Colour has an important role to play in this discussion.

The POLYCHROMY PLAYS palette comprises both the colours and names given to each shade. These include a wide range of inspirations, from inside and outside the hospital, feelings, foods, politics, and bodily functions. They are sometimes light and playful and sometimes transgressive and troubling, showing that it is important to involve the light and the dark sides of hospital experience as a more holistic way to consider the reality 
of the environment. The colours use the NCS reference system so that future designers, architects, and artists working in the hospital can work with the exact shades picked by the patients.


POLYCHROMY PLAYS is a collaborative project between The Showroom, Imperial Health Charity, and artist Navine G. Khan- Dossos, with the patients of the Paediatric department at St Mary’s Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Paddington. It is part of Imperial Health Charity’s Artist in Residence programme and The Showroom’s Communal Knowledge programme, which invites artists and other cultural producers to work with community groups, organisations and individuals from the neighbourhood towards collective, creative outcomes. Communal Knowledge is generously supported by John Lyon’s Charity.

With thanks to Kate Pleydell and Lucy Zacaria at Imperial Health Charity, Caroline Scott-Lang, Mando Watson, Lucy Underhill, The Play Team at St Mary’s, and Ab Rogers.

Image: POLYCHROMY PLAYS, courtesy of Navine G. Khan-Dossos, 2018


Navine G. Khan-Dossos (b. 1982, London) is a visual artist working between London and Athens. Her interests include Orientalism in the digital realm, geometry as information and decoration, image calibration, and Aniconism in contemporary culture. As a painter, Khan-Dossos uses the medium and its history to ask fundamental questions about the ways in which we see, understand, and, crucially, represent the world around us. Her work suggests that contrary to the mediatic impulses of the present, we must not rely upon, nor constantly reproduce, the figurative language of television, online media, videos, and the endlessly circulating images that shape our shared imagination of reality. Rather, she is invested in the discovery of a new language that better reflects the patterns and connections that underlie these images and their related experiences.

In June 2019 Khan-Dossos' project There Is No Alternative opened at The Showroom. This performative, durational installation combined live painting, a research archive, and a series of workshops, talks, and events open to the public. The project, Khan-Dossos’ first in a UK public institution, featured her on-going research into the complex context of the UK government’s development of pre-crime and surveillance policies, questioning the politics of representation and the positioning of care that the strategies around those policies generate.

Khan-Dossos studied History of Art at Cambridge University, Arabic at Kuwait University, Islamic Art at the Prince’s School of Traditional Art in London, and holds an MA in Fine Art from Chelsea College of Art & Design, London. In 2014/2015, she was a participant at the Van Eyck Academie in Maastricht (NL). She has exhibited and worked with various institutions, including SALT (Istanbul), The 4th Istanbul Design Biennial, The Van Abbemuseum (Eindhoven) The Museum of Islamic Art (Doha), Witte de With (Rotterdam), The Delfina Foundation (London), The Library of Amiens (Amiens), Leighton House Museum (London), The Benaki Museum of Islamic Art (Athens) and the A.M. Qattan Foundation (Ramallah). She has published work in The White Review and The Happy Hypocrite. She is currently a tutor on the MA program at the Dutch Art Institute (Arnhem) and a member of the Substantial Motion Research Network.