It was a damp but exciting afternoon in central Truro on Wednesday 24th August, when overseas nurses from the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust met up with Penzance-based photographer Mike Newman for a photography workshop with a difference.
The nurses, here to provide an essential boost to colleagues from our hospitals, had a unique and much-needed chance to meet and interact with local people and learn some new skills at the same time.
After a few top tips from Mike and a cream tea at the Hall for Cornwall, nurses Michael Apas, Chloe Mickelson, and Ace Gonzales, all from the Philippines, ventured out despite the rain into the market to meet traders, and to chat and take photographs of them and their stalls.
“This photography session was such a good avenue where we could each enhance our ways of translating interactions on a more creative level,
” Michael explains.
“We are all complete strangers coming from a different background and perspective, but we are unified with art. It connects well with nursing. Nursing is not just a science, there is an art to it as well. So, it’s the same with photography; there’s a science alongside the art.”
“This is something I also learned when I was doing Interpretive Phenomenological research back home,” Michael continues. “The pictures we took on the day could suggest meaning and messages that were hard to explain. Like the many experiences we’ve encountered through our work, some of those experiences can’t easily be explained, but are felt. It goes to show the power of photography, or creativity in general, and how, like nursing, or caring for a patient, it becomes a unifying force that can bridge the gap, and breaks the barriers of culture, language, and ethnicity.”
Workshop leader Mike Newman agreed and was highly impressed by the results. “I wanted the nurses to meet people they might not normally meet during an average work day,” Mike explained. “But I also wanted people in the community to be able to chat to the nurses as well, and to see a more creative side of them that may not be as obvious when they’re in work, or in their uniform.”
There will be more photography workshops held on Thursday 20 October and Thursday 17 November, both at 2pm, and photographs taken will be displayed in an exhibition. The workshops are run by the charity Bridging Arts, which has funding from Cornwall Council. The work of the charity aims to break down barriers and increase understanding of the vital role played by people born overseas in the Cornish economy, and in the health service especially.