Leeds-based artist Paul Digby is asking members of the public to donate money 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.
Paul: “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.”
From 2015 – 2019, Paul created a series of drawings and sculptures featuring people from the emergency services in classical poses. These were exhibited around the UK, and are on display in The Ropewalk Gallery in north Lincolnshire, which commissioned the two new drawings of Jane which form part of the exhibition.
Paul’s latest artistic venture is the planned creation of a life-size sculpture of Emily Greaves-Brayne, who began nursing at the start of the pandemic. It will be on display in various locations in 2022 and 2023, before it is given a permanent home in Leeds, with the help of Leeds23 and Leeds City Council.
Paul: “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. 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 Paul’s Leeds studio. Whilst he has gained significant support from various Leeds institutions, including schools and museums, but he needs to raise at least £2,500 from the public (10 per cent of the overall project fee).
Paul: “This has been a difficult time for everyone, but I’m hoping people will be able to contribute enough to get this project moving.”
The Go Fund Me page is at https://gofund.me/ba9f313d
Leeds NHS Teaching Hospital
Leeds City Council
Thackray Museum of Medicine
Legacy Habitat Management Ltd.
Feature image is of a drawing on the theme of the sculpture, upper part, by Paul Rigby.