Tate loans painting of Covid frontline staff to Alder Hey hospital | Art

The Tate has loaned a painting to Alder Hey children’s NHS foundation trust in Liverpool depicting its staff who continued working on the frontlines during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The group portrait, titled Team Time Storytelling, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital Emergency Department, Covid Pandemic, was created by the New York-based artist Aliza Nisenbaum and was one of 20 portraits commissioned by Tate Liverpool and shown at the gallery in 2021.

Such was the impact of the commission, the gallery felt its home ought to be at the hospital, marking a rare incident of a painting in the national collection being allowed to reside in a non-arts space on a long-term basis. The NHS marks its 75th anniversary next month.

The painting shows a group of staff members who had been using reflective practices to cope with traumatic situations at work. The people depicted represent a broad range of roles including administrative staff, nurses, porters and doctors.

Nisenbaum was due to undertake a residency in Liverpool in spring 2020 but due to the pandemic adapted her practice and worked with her sitters remotely. She asked each person to make a drawing about their workplace experiences during the pandemic – a practice that hospital staff use with children to help communicate their emotions – and these are included in the final image.

Aliza Nisenbaum at work on the painting in her studio. Photograph: Ryan C Spencer/Tate Liverpool/PA

Helen Legg, the director of Tate Liverpool, said: “Tate is proud to be able to unveil Aliza Nisenbaum’s painting at Alder Hey – a rare example of an artwork from the national collection on view to the public in a non-arts setting.

“Aliza’s image of NHS frontline workers during the pandemic moved everyone who saw it. Seeing it on display again is an acknowledgment of the value of our NHS as it celebrates its 75th anniversary and is a tribute to those who care.”

Louise Shepherd, the hospital trust’s chief executive, said the artwork was “a valuable reminder of the outstanding dedication of our staff during the recent pandemic”.

She said: “The unveiling of this stunning painting at Alder Hey is a huge honour and is testament to the fantastic support Tate Liverpool has given to our Arts for Health programme for 20 years. We have delivered some incredible collaborative programmes during that time and I look forward to us together bringing further benefits to our children and young people in the future.”

Alder Hey’s Arts for Health programme has been at the forefront of using the arts in children’s healthcare. The hospital has previously collaborated with Tate Liverpool on programmes to benefit children and young people in its care.


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