A new public art project for Leeds

ICU Sister Emily Greaves-Brayne shares her thoughts about Looking to the Future – a planned public art project for Leeds. The project is proposing the creation of a new public statue, by sculptor Paul Digby, of a nurse (for which Emily is the model) to celebrate the contribution of healthworkers during the COVID pandemic.

sculpture of a nurse in protective clothing

The nurse sculpture will be an everlasting tribute to nurses for everything they contributed to the pandemic.

During the pandemic, we saw healthcare in a very different light. Important equipment ran out, we couldn’t get certain PPE, we had a chronic lack of staff which meant that most nurses were doing the job of three.

At the start of the pandemic I was fresh out of university so I was quite young and naive. I think people forget what nurses see and do every day. We have to deal with extremely mature and sometimes traumatising situations. The pandemic ensured every single shift was like this. Every shift we saw patients dying from COVID- people of all ages and backgrounds. It was heartbreaking. So I had to grow up really quickly. The things that myself, my colleagues and our patients experienced during this time will be something that will haunt us for the rest of our lives. I am, however, grateful for the vaccine and that this period of time is over. Hopefully now we can all start to heal.

Paul has spent an enormous amount of time creating the sculpture. It is such a generous show of appreciation to nurses around the UK for our tireless hard work. I am so excited to see the final product. For it to be displayed in a number of Leeds Museums, is an honour and a privilege. I want to personally thank him for his tribute and hope the rest of Leeds appreciate the work that has gone into it and the reasons behind its fabrication.

See more about Looking to the Future in our digital exhibition