On May 19, 2010, the Department of Radiotherapy, Oncology & Palliative Care, Sarawak General Hospital held a workshop on Arts in Medicine. This workshop was produced in collaboration with the Moffitt Cancer and Research Center, USA and the Sarawak Hospice Society and conducted by Ms. Kala Pohl, who is an Expressive Arts Facilitator with the Arts in Medicine Program at Moffitt.

Ms. Pohl is an award-winning acrylic artist. Prior to her career as a full-time artist, she worked for 20 years in the technology industry. In 2006, Ms. Pohl found an opportunity to combine her creativity with her belief that art is an integral component to healing and began work as an Arts Facilitator in the healthcare environment. Arts in Medicine is an international movement that believes that creative activities (visual art, music, dance, poetry) bring opportunities for self-expression, empowerment and development of coping skills. They reduce stress in patients, family members and hospital staff.


Artist Mrs. Kala Pohl (4th from left, front row) with participants

Participants having fun with paint on canvas


The objective of the workshop was to introduce the staff to the Arts in Medicine program and to enable them to personally experience the benefits of creativity in a stressful environment. The other focus of the workshop was the team building and camaraderie that happens when people work on a community project.

The project chosen for this workshop was String Art and Acrylic Painting. Ms. Pohl began by providing the participants with their own piece of paper so that they could experiment on it before moving on to the community art. A string was dipped in black ink and dragged across the plain white sheet to create designs. After the ink dried, acrylic paint was used to paint in between the black lines to create individual art sheets. Even though the participants were unsure of what was expected of them in the beginning, they soon got excited and were ready to try their hand at creating their own art. There was a lot of laughter and enjoyment in the sharing of each other’s art. The individual work created by the participants was glued on to a large canvas as collage art. The completed art canvases now hang in the Department of Radiotherapy, Oncology & Palliative Care at the Sarawak General Hospital.


A mandala is a circular drawing or painting that expresses wholeness. It is found in the art and spiritual traditions of every culture in every time in human history. The word "mandala" is Sanskrit for "center" or "circle" and has the fuller meaning "to have possession of one's essence".