#10 Care

2020 was a year of unexpected changes and challenges. A year which we were forced to stop or to pivot direction. For some, 2020 allowed time to think, to reflect, to experiment or to change. It has also without a doubt highlighted how we care; for each other, for ourselves and for our communities. This issue of Photography+ explores photography in relation to care. We have published an exclusive conversation between photographer Peter Watkins and writer Oliver Shamlou, a conclusion to Watkin's series The Unforgotten‘to some future place where the centrality of this trauma is moved aside.’ Meanwhile, artist Othello De'Souza-Hartley  speaks to us about his practice and forthcoming projects, including a new self-portrait in his father’s empty bedroom. We are pleased to partner with Wellcome to bring you a creative writing response to their current commission The Covid-19 Anxiety Project. Read a new piece of writing by West Midlands based curator and writer Anneka French who, when looking at the images, shares how her own memories of lockdown are evoked, and poems come to her. We are excited to share new work by Murray Ballard, Zoe Childerley, Celine Marchbank and Helen Sear for CONNECT – the 3Ts hospital redevelopment public art programme at Brighton’s Royal Sussex County Hospital. Finally, delve in and enjoy the final essay by our 2020 Writer in Residence Marissa Chen: The Many Faces of Self-Care.

In 2017 when Photoworks commissioned Helen Sear to make new work for CONNECT – the 3Ts hospital redevelopment public art project – no one could have imagined the focus or strain our hospitals and National healthcare systems would be facing in 2020. Coincidentally as the pandemic took hold, the three year commission to make new work for the waiting rooms for Brighton’s Royal Sussex County Hospital was drawing to a close and we discussed the final edit of images. This brought to light the importance of our hospitals and the environments in which we receive and give care. It is not just the treatment but the environment in which we receive treatment which is so important.

© Helen Sear, In Waiting, 2017-2020

Embarking on the project in the autumn of 2017 Sear set out to explore the theme of Sussex, drawing on the natural environment and landscape of the southern English county. Sear returned to the same locations multiple times, with the intention of capturing the passing of time, the seasons, and the flora and fauna which appears and retreats throughout the yearly cycle.

Sear, having built a prominent career over the last three decades often composes and alters her images in post production. Working in the studio this not only creates surreal, sublime imagery but also makes visible the traces of her labour. Each image is altered by hand (albeit digitally) with sections erased, layered and tinted, the digital overpainting and reworking shifting from the subtle to the abrupt depending on the image. This reinterpretation of the natural world brings the outdoors inside, to the domestic space (or in this case the hospital environment) transporting the glories of nature to the indoors. Sears work also cleverly achieves a taming of nature, a muting or filtering of the vast outside environment into a controlled framed piece of work. This new body of work is vast and playful, capturing the pleasure, wonder and mystery of nature.

© Helen Sear, In Waiting, 2017-2020

As the commission was coming to an end we worked together to finalise the locations of the new works in specific areas of the hospital. A very different approach to curating, where the floorplans were labeled with titles such as ‘critical care’ ‘neurophysiology’ and ‘rheumatology’ rather than ‘gallery’. After planning the placement of the works throughout the hospital, some of which are site specific and made to cover entire walls, it becomes apparent how this work will fit and live within the care setting – as a form of escape, to intrigue and calm.

About CONNECT

Photoworks in partnership with Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, Willis Newson and the University of Brighton have commissioned four new works for CONNECT – the 3Ts hospital redevelopment public art programme.

These commissions deliver a permanent collection of photographic artworks sited across 36 public waiting rooms within the new 3Ts redevelopment of Brighton’s Royal Sussex County Hospital to open soon.

CONNECT, the public art programme for the hospital, will create a distinctive identity for the hospital and a lasting legacy of accessible, high-quality public art for the city, county and community. Underlining a sense of place connecting patients and the local environment, the four themes chosen for the photography programme of CONNECT are Sussex, South Downs, Brighton and Coast.

Text: Shoair Mavlian, Photoworks

Learn more about Helen Sear Read Helen Sear: Inside The View Learn more about 3TS Read more Photography+ here

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