Tate Liverpool Celebrates NHS Key Workers in a New Exhibition

A new exhibition has opened at Tate Liverpool celebrating the tireless work of NHS staff in the local community.

New-York based artist Aliza Nisenbaum’s works feature thirteen colourful, large-scale portraits dedicated to those key workers who have staffed Merseyside hospitals during the pandemic.

The works feature an array of staff including a hospital porter, a respiratory doctor and a professor of outbreak medicine.

Nisenbaum said of her exhibition: “I’ve spoken online with 25 people who work in the healthcare sector in Liverpool. These conversations have provided a fascinating window into each person’s life as a key responder during the COVID pandemic.

“I have been deeply moved by these stories of service and selflessness, and of resilience through teamwork and humour. And I am very excited to create a tribute to each individual I’ve met through painting.”

The exhibition, which opened in December and runs until 27 June 2021, captures the impact that the pandemic has had upon the frontline NHS workers and tells their unique stories.  One of the subjects of the portraits is a doctor who became a father during the first wave, while another is a student nurse who told how her family of nurses all returned to frontline work to support the NHS.

Nisenbaum listened to the stories and experiences of the NHS staff, via video link from her studio in the United States.  The artist used the conversations as a basis for her paintings and chose to include the sitter’s pets, musical instruments and other things which gave them hope and support during these challenging times.

Helen Legg, Director of Tate Liverpool, commented: “Nisenbaum sees painting as a political practice and in choosing to paint people who have worked tirelessly in support of others, at a time of heightened physical risk and anxiety she not only celebrates them but also asks us to consider whether as a society we place sufficient value on the critical work that they do.

Though Nisenbaum is best known for community portraits she always draws out each individual, spending hours talking to them throughout the process and incorporating aspects of their personality and interests within her paintings. In her paintings, every individual is unique and is valued. We hope that this exhibition speaks of the enormous gratitude people in this city feel towards all keyworkers.”

Visitors to Tate Liverpool can view the eleven individual portraits and two large-scale group paintings, which sit alongside three films. One of the films shows how Nisenbaum created the new work for Liverpool as well as the artist’s largest work to date, entitled London Underground: Brixton Station and Victoria Line 2019.

Entrance to the Nisenbaum exhibition is free, but visitors must book a timed ticket online to ensure visitor numbers adhere to social distancing regulations.