On Saturday night, large messages spanning the odd-55 metre wide wall of the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary gave life to the hopes and dreams of NHS workers and visitors to the hospital in an installation aiming to put their voices front and centre.
The Grampian Hospitals Art Trust (GHAT) launched the eye-catching project after months of work within the hospital alongside frontline staff, creating a gallery space which allowed staff, patients and visitors to respond to prompts about life after the pandemic and their experiences at the Royal Infirmary.
Rafaela Sales Ross, project manager at GHAT, led the way in collating messages and views from hospital workers for an exhibition at the Suttie Arts Space in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
The exhibition, looking at ‘Life after Covid’, allowed NHS staff to respond to prompts about what they were looking forward to after the pandemic and what the efforts of health workers at the hospital had meant to patients and their loved ones.
Rafaela said: “The idea was to actually bring people into the gallery to share their feelings and thoughts as a sort of open diary.”
While NHS workers have certainly revealed themselves to be heroes working on the frontline of the pandemic, Rafaela explained that it felt important to highlight their individual struggles and desires for the future.
"At the end of the day, they are people just like you and me,” she added. “They’re excited for this to end and to be able to go to a pub with their friends. They have day-to-day aspirations and aren’t always thinking of themselves as these superheroes, so I just wanted to convey that relatable side to them and give them the space to say these things themselves.”
After the ‘Life After Covid’ exhibition closed, Rafaela said she sought to take the project one step further with the projections on Saturday night.
"I was really keen to try and do whatever we could to help, even if it's the smallest of things and I think in a moment like this it just felt so important to create a space where people can really feel heard and be seen as individuals.”
From ‘chilling and listening to the Rolling Stones’, to ‘days out with grandma’ and ‘live as I’ve never lived before’, health workers’ wishes for a post-pandemic world appeared as bold, block messages in the towering installation.
Likewise, messages from patients and their loved ones thanking staff for their hard work were displayed also, such as ‘neurology staff helped me cope with my wife’s terrible illness’ and ‘we are grateful for your sacrifices, you are valued’ appearing alongside personal reflections from NHS staff.
Moray-based visual artist Graeme Rogers was brought into the fold to help bring the installation to life, recruiting the projection services of Edinburgh-based audio visual firm WarPro to create the dramatic display.
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