The art of caring—UK gallery launches Nurse in Residence programme

Barber Institute’s Head of Public Engagement, Jen Ridding, with nursing students courtesy The Barber Institute of Fine Arts

Cultural institutions worldwide have come up with all sorts of clever and compassionate ways of trying to cope during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, the art gallery at the University of Birmingham, UK, has engaged with the crisis in a very innovative way by launching a Nurse in Residence programme (not artist—nurse). Jane Nicol, senior lecturer at the University of Birmingham’s School of Nursing and a registered nurse, will “over the next twelve months be looking at the Barber’s collection through her unique lens and developing ways of using these major works of art to inform community healthcare and enrich medical training”, says a statement. Nicol will turn her gaze to works in the collection by artists such as Rubens, Van Gogh and Magritte. The move is part of a year-long health and wellbeing initiative called Barber Health, a timely and imaginative response to the pandemic partly funded through a Respond & Reimagine grant from the Art Fund charity. Other project strands include a Care Home Outreach scheme whereby specially designed virtual gallery tours will be delivered to care homes, alongside live-streamed art workshops. Every little helps, after all.