Keith Dougall

Community Arts & Cultural Development

Catching Your Breath

Catching Your Breath is a unique and fun community engagement project for a major suspended glass artwork I’ve been commissioned to make for the new Royal Hobart Hospital in Tasmania.

Days Left

Patients, staff and visitors of the Royal Hobart Hospital will be given the opportunity to donate their breath into beautiful hand-blown clear glass bubbles which will be grouped in nets and suspended in the new reception area of the hospital.

The artwork, due to be installed in December 2019, is called ‘Catching Your Breath’ and has been commissioned by the Tasmanian Public Art Site Scheme. However, the budget simply won’t stretch to cover the facilitation and documentation of this important community engagement component.

The artwork uses human breath as a symbol of life, breathed and sealed into each of the uniquely shaped glass bubbles.

The seven ‘bundles of breath’, formed by grouping the glass bubbles into woven stainless steel nets, form a symbolic picture of the rich communities of people that form around each patient to help ‘lift’ them to higher levels of health and well-being. Each bundle will hang at random heights in the 12m atrium, resembling giant refreshing rain drops.

Through this project, up to 350 people will have the opportunity to donate their breath into one of the glass bubbles where it will become a permanent part of the artwork.

It’s important because the people of the hospital community – patients, staff, volunteers and visitors – need to feel this artwork captures something of them and their journey as they travel through the many challenges and joys of hospital life. It seeks to celebrate and reflect on the incredible resilience, life and beauty of the 100’s of ordinary, yet inspiring, people who make up the hospital community.

It’s a big job to go into the hospital and facilitate people, young and old, to donate their breath into the bubbles. We want to do it in such a way that everyone gets a chance to tell a bit of their story – where they’re from and why they’re there… and something of what they’re hoping for in that moment.
Each donor will be photographed, and some filmed (with permission), for presentation on a beautifully crafted website which can be accessed via a QR code on the artwork plaque.

All those involved will be giving large portions of their time and skills as ‘in-kind’ support for the project, yet there are still significant costs that need to be covered.

Your donation will help pay for travel (petrol and airfares), accommodation and part of the time spent by myself and other artist-facilitators, including a photographer, videographer and web designer who will work hard with me and my project partners to make this project a reality.

The outcome will be a beautiful documentary website that features the photos and stories of all those who have donated their breath, plus a short video featuring a selection of breath-donors and the story of making the artwork itself.

By giving to this project, you’ll be helping 100’s of people form a tangible connection with a beautiful artwork that helps give meaning to what they do every day – inspiring and bringing hope to 100’s more who will gaze up at this artwork for years to come.

For more details, email

Live Projects


Keith has been working with glass for over 25 years. He studied (and later taught) glass at the Canberra School of Art, ANU, establishing a private studio on the edge of Canberra. Moving to Tasmania 17 years ago, he established a public access studio for glass artists in a small village community called Poatina where he continues to practice and teach as part of a colony of residential and visiting artists.

Keith’s work utilises glass blowing and molten glass furnace techniques as well as kiln-formed glass techniques such as fusing and slumping – sometimes in combination. He is most passionate about making art for specific settings and communities – most recently through significant public art projects with the Tasmanian Public Art Site Scheme.

Often involving the creation of multiple glass components to form large ambitious works, Keith’s practice explores themes of collective human existence such as individuality, fragility, and resilience. It symbolically highlights the intrinsic value of ‘unique yet similar’ individuals and their capacity to derive meaning, contribute and give shape to impressive systems and communities.


Jim Reiher


AM & JK Dawborn


Jacqueline Dawborn