While exploring the hospital archives, our Drawer-in-Residence Anouk Mercier came across a group photograph of 50 nurses, taken in 1919, and was struck by the fact that none of their names had been recorded. She also noticed that throughout the archives and the hospital’s art collection there are numerous paintings, drawings and references to significant male figures in and around the hospital, but few to none of women. To address this lack of representation, Anouk is drawing 50 individual portraits of each of the women in the photograph.
“The process of creating each drawing will allow me to ‘spend time’ with the nurses, celebrating their uniqueness and questioning potential personalities, histories and roles.”
The drawings will also provide a platform to invite members of the public, as well as staff, to help identify each woman, with the hope that it will result in the hospital archive discovering each nurse’s identity and listing their names alongside the photograph. In doing so, the completed series will also celebrate the restorative power of drawing as a tool that can question and rehabilitate the prevailing historical narrative.
A selection of Anouk’s portraits are now on public display at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, find them on the ground floor between Lift Banks B and C.
Can you help us identify any of our 50 nurses? Get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org