Exciting new public sculpture will recognise the significant contribution made by nurses during the pandemic.
Leeds-based artist Paul Digby is raising money from the public to create a statue celebrating and commemorating the huge sacrifices made by nurses, NHS workers and frontline staff in the city during the 2020-21 Covid-19 pandemic.
“Over the past year I kept seeing a nurse friend, Jane Morgan, in the supermarket,” he explains. “She has worked with COVID patients on the critical care ward at Jimmy’s in Leeds. Each time she seemed more and more frazzled, just totally exhausted. It was hard to think about what she was going through. My heart went out to her and her colleagues – in fact to all NHS staff and frontline workers.”
Between 2015-19, he’d created a series of drawings and sculptures featuring people from the emergency services in classical poses. These were exhibited around the UK, and will be on display over the summer in The Ropewalk Gallery in north Lincolnshire – along with two new drawings of Jane commissioned by the gallery.
But now Paul is planning to create a life-size figurative sculpture of a nurse who started nursing at the start of the pandemic called Emily Greaves-Brayne, that will be shown in various locations in 2022 and 2023 and then find a permanent space in Leeds city centre. This is with the help of Leeds23 and Leeds City Council.
“It’s a way of saying thank you, and remembering all the NHS staff did this year, putting their own lives on the line to help others,” says Paul. “But I also want it to be about looking forward to what will hopefully be a brighter future.”
The sculpture will be modelled using clay and cast in jesmonite in his Leeds studio. Paul has gained significant support from various Leeds institutions including schools and museums.
However, to make sure the statue goes ahead, he needs to raise at least £2,500 from the public (10 per cent of the overall project fee). “This has been a difficult time for everyone,” he acknowledges, but I’m hoping people will be able to contribute enough to get this project moving.”
There is a Go Fund Me page for donations, and obviously Paul would appreciate coverage of the project. He is available for interview contact www.pauldigby.co.uk.
The Go Fund Me page is at https://gofund.me/ba9f313d
Previous project (drawings and sculptures of people in the emergency services): https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZG4eMFLe71E
BBC radio leeds interview 1.43hrs in https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p09k627x