Covid-19: Artist honours 'life on the line' NHS workers at Tate Liverpool

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image copyrightAliza Nisenbaum
image captionThe exhibition includes two large group pieces and 11 individual portraits

A series of paintings of NHS workers who have put their "life on the line" during the pandemic pay "tribute" to their bravery, their creator has said.

Aliza Nisenbaum used photos and Zoom calls to create portraits of nurses, doctors, porters and a hospital chaplain for Tate Liverpool.

She said they were about how workers "balance life" on the front line.

Nurse Ann Taylor said she took part "on a whim", having been drawn by the chance to have "my 15 minutes of fame".

image copyrightAliza Nisenbaum
image captionMany of the works include the sitters holding items that have helped through the pandemic
image copyrightAliza Nisenbaum
image captionTHe sitters include doctors, nurses, porters and a hospital chaplain

Nisenbaum, who is known for her bright, large-scale portraits of people and community groups, created the works in her New York studio, using video calls and photographs to get to know her subjects.

A spokeswoman for Tate Liverpool said many of the works depict the sitters "alongside things that have given them support and hope through this difficult time, such as pets or musical instruments".

Nisenbaum said during the course of the conversations, "I realised how their jobs are really a vocation of service, because this was something they were putting their life on the line for.

"I tried to think about how they balance life and how they deal with things like being parents."

The sitters come from many different parts of the NHS on Merseyside and include a professor of outbreak medicine who helps advise the government on Covid-19, a student who has followed in the footsteps of her family by becoming a nurse and a doctor who became a father during the first wave.

image copyrightRyan C Spencer
image captionThe artist used Zoom calls and photographs to get to know her sitters
image copyrightRyan C Spencer
image captionNisenbaum is known for her bright-coloured large paintings of groups

Ann Taylor, who works as a substance misuse specialist nurse at Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral, said she applied to be a part of the project "on a whim".

"I'm 63 years old and it was the thought of hanging on the wall of the Tate and having my 15 minutes of fame, so I decided to just go for it.

"It's been a lovely, lovely process."

image copyrightAliza Nisenbaum
image captionProfessor Calum Semple and nurse Ann Taylor are among those depicted

Fifty-three-year-old porter Kevin Henderson, who works at Liverpool's Alder Hey Children's Hospital, was also drawn by the chance to see himself in a gallery.

"How many people can say they are on a portrait in the Tate?" he said.

"It's obviously something to tell the grandchildren, once they come along."

The exhibition runs at Tate Liverpool until June 2021.

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