Visitors to Alder Hey Children’s hospital in Liverpool, UK, can see a painting by the Mexican artist Aliza Nisenbaum depicting nurses, doctors and porters who continued working there during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The work—entitled Team Time Storytelling, Alder Hey Children's Hospital Emergency Department, Covid Pandemic (2020)—was shown at Tate Liverpool in 2021; Tate has loaned the work long term to the hospital. The recent presentation of the group portrait in the hospital’s Park building marks the 75th anniversary of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) on 5 July.
The painting shows “a group of staff members who had been using reflective practices, focused on the mental health and well-being of medical teams working in traumatic situations as a means of sharing emotional responses to situations at work”, a Tate statement says.
Nisenbaum talked to the NHS staff via Zoom during lockdown and used photographs to create the group work. The painting also features drawings made by the sitters reflecting their pandemic experiences. Helen Legg, the director of Tate Liverpool, says in a statement that the loan is “a rare example of an artwork from the national collection on view to the public in a non-arts setting”.
Meanwhile two projects part-funded by the conservation body Historic England also commemorate the NHS anniversary. The digital work Moments of Grace (by the arts production company On the Record) reflects 24 hours at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London, featuring contributions from 50 nurses and midwives along with music composed by Nicole Robson.
“A permanent 24-hour physical sound and light installation will launch at St Thomas' Hospital in 2024, with additional funding from The Hospital's Charity. Audience members will be able to sit down in a new alcove within Central Hall to hear NHS workers' stories, field recordings of nurses and original music,” a project statement says
The other initiative, Answering the Call, draws on archive material an to explore the experiences of nurses from the Commonwealth who came to the United Kingdom in the post-war period, focusing on staff and patients attending Glenside Hospital in Bristol. The project will culminate in an exhibition at Glenside Hospital Museum in December. Both schemes are funded by Historic England’s Everyday Heritage grants.