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Bringing art and nursing together

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The best part of being adult branch editor is that, as well as providing a platform for me to discuss a profession I love, I am also able to highlight and celebrate the achievements of my colleagues.

In fact I actively encourage my fellow students to utilise my role to do just this.

This week I caught up with Ali Lomas. Ali is a student nurse at the University of Wolverhampton (Burton Campus).

Ali graduated in 2009 with a 1st class honours degree in Fine Art Photography. The same year she entered an image from her degree show into the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery. The image, entitled 1 of 4 from the series To Feel Beautiful, was awarded the ELLE commission and the Godfrey Argent Award.  As recipient of the final Godfrey Argent Award Ali was re-commissioned to photograph a portrait of an established person who has made a contribution to British culture. It was decided that a nurse would be the appropriate candidate for Ali’s portrait.

Ali tells us about her portrait and how she combined her passion for both photography and nursing.

‘’I chose to use Dame Christine Beasley for the portrait because of her dedication to nursing.

“Her final role was as Chief Nursing Officer from 2004-2012 at the Department of Health but for the duration of her career that spanned 5 decades she has worked in various roles. Throughout her 50-year career, Dame Christine Beasley worked as a staff nurse at The Royal. During the 80s and 90s she participated in senior roles at Ealing and Riverside Health Authorities before making a transition into wider regional Nurse Director roles at North Thames Regional Health Authority.  She has been integral in the development of policy, and has held a series of senior posts in leadership and general management.

Christine Beasley-photoshoot

Setting up the shoot

 I wanted the portrait to be reflective of character, which echoed memory of her past career and reflected her caring nature, but one that was also empowering and articulated her strength of presence.  

“The decision of where would be the best location for the shoot to take place, proved a difficult choice. It was finally decided on the The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel. Situated in the OPD; the last remaining part of original building. We did the shoot on a staircase that is still in its original form 50 years after Christine trained there. 

“The building is due to be vacated at the end of 2014 so shooting here felt important in the preservation of history. I have to say that the original staircase bears little clinical resemblance to what we would see now .The walls are coated in yellows and oranges and the staircase has a sense of grandeur, but the memories within these walls were apparent.

The opportunity to combine photography with nursing was both exciting and humbling. Both are my passion and being enabled to combine them together was an immeasurable experience. Christine was entirely unassuming and completely modest; therefore it was nice to give recognition to all she has achieved for the nursing profession.  

“As a student nurse, I wanted to use this opportunity to encourage a positive reflection of nursing, for the portrait to be seen as an overall acclaim for all nurses, applauding their altruistic work and own valuable time they generously invest and give to others.’’

Leanne Siekiera-portrait3

Ali’s portrait will be displayed at The National Portrait Gallery, London from 10/11/14


From one student nurse to another I would like to offer Ali massive congratulations.


Leanne Siekiera is Student Nursing Times’ student editor for adult branch


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