50 Nurses is an on-going project resulting from current year-long drawing residency for hospital charity CW+, at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London, kindly supported by the Tavolozza Foundation.
Created in parallel to research undertaken for the charity’s heritage project celebrating the 300th anniversary of the original Westminster Hospital, the work addresses the significant lack of female representation throughout both the hospital archives and the charity’s historic art collection. It specifically responds to the discovery of a 1919 photograph of Westminster nurses, which omitted to record any of the photographed women's names in spite of being one of the rare archives documenting women’s contribution to hospital life.
50 Nurses consists of 50 painstakingly drawn individual portraits of each of the women in the original photograph; a selection of which were installed in Chelsea and Westminster Hospital as part of International Women's Day on 8 March 2019, as a deliberate way of reclaiming some physical space within the hospital building for key female figures.
As well as celebrating each woman’s uniqueness and questioning potential personalities, histories and roles, the drawings are also providing a platform to invite staff and members of the public to help identify each nurse, 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 celebrate the restorative power of drawing as a tool that can question and rehabilitate the prevailing historical narrative.