Work of art remembers covid patients

Posted On 02 Dec 2021 at 3:06 pm


An artwork made of hundreds of handmade hearts intended for covid victims and their families is going on display at the Royal Sussex.

The hearts were made during the first wave of the pandemic, with covid patients in intensive care and their families who were unable to be at their bedside given matching hearts to help them feel closer.

Staff at what was then Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals (BSUH) NHS Trust came up with the Shared Hearts idea in April 2020, inspired by a similar scheme in the north of England.

If the patient passed away, a card, with a heart and a personal message would be sent to the next of
kin.

Many hundreds of hearts were donated by members of the public – thankfully many more than were needed by the Royal Sussex County Hospital, or any of the hospitals across run by the new trust which runs it, University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust

They have now been turned into a stunning work of art, Dream over Feeling, by artist Joe Laffan, and
commissioned and framed by UHSussex arts programme Onward Arts, funded by the Trusts’ BSUH charity.

It is thought to be the only work of art of its kind in the UK and hangs in reception of the Audrey Emerton Building, the education centre at The Royal Sussex County Hospital, in Brighton.

Joe, an arts graduate who works at the Trust as a Faculty Administrator for Medicine, said: “I was asked by onward arts if I would create a piece of art from the hundreds of knitted hearts they had left over from the project.

“I had about 400 hearts to use and I wanted to create something that would commemorate all those people
who have been lost to Covid but also all those left behind after loss – families and friends, healthcare staff who felt helpless as people died.”

The subject of the artwork is a human eye and part of a face, which was actually modelled on one of Joe’s
clinical colleagues.

The technique he used is known as ‘latch hooking’, and saw Joe individually hand-stitch 125,000 yarns.

Joe added: “I finished it in October this year. It took me four months of working 4 hours every night and then 8 hours on a Saturday and Sunday.

“The eye and the mask were created using the same technique and in all, 46 different colours of wool were
used. A lot of wool.

“I am really happy with the piece. I saw so many doctors and nurses suffering throughout this pandemic.

“It was my obsession to finish the piece and I see it as a memorial and tribute to all of the dedicated work of our NHS staff and for all the lives lost and people impacted by this terrible disease.”

The team at Onward Arts strives to enhance the experience of patients, visitors and staff, and to create
healing hospital environments through the use of the arts.

Project Manager Erin Burns said: “The piece has truly brightened up the reception at the building, and will continue to be an emotional reminder to everyone who visits of an incredibly difficult year.

“I want to thank Joe, the BSUH charity for funding the project and to the wonderful local people who donated the hearts which made this possible.”

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