International Nurses Day x COIB
Terrassa, Barcelona, Vilanova i la Geltrú, and Vic
On May 12, 2022, on the International Nurses Day, an urban action of citizen participation promoted by the Col·legi Oficial d’infermeres i infermers de Barcelona (COIB) took place in four cities – Barcelona by Emily Eldridge, Terrassa by Emily Eldridge, Vilanova i La Gletrú by Carola Bagnato, and Vic by Galleta María. The action was developed throughout the day, from ten in the morning to six in the afternoon, and it aimed to recognize the task that the nurses of our country collectively do. The action was produced and coordinated jointly by COIB, Rebobinart, and Both Agency.
The artistic intervention was to recognize the care work of the nurses’ community through the creation of original works of four illustrators while generating a participatory device that invited citizens to share their thoughts and reflections on what is essential and how nurses’ caring tasks contribute socially.
To do this, cubes were installed throughout the day in busy public spaces of four cities where one lateral was painted by an artist’s design live painted and aimed to make visible the task of the nursing collective, and the other sides were destined for citizen interaction. The latter consisted of blank spaces, only filled with the lettering of the prompts “claim what is essential” and “recognize the nurses” to be filled with thankful messages by passersby, accompanied by an educator who dynamized the action.
In each location, an illustrator was invited to graphically convey the commitment of nurses to care. In the Hospital del Mar in Barcelona, the American illustrator resident in Europe Emily Eldridge configured four gender-ambiguous naïve figures around a heart with the cross symbol to evoke health care, with her characteristic style of simplified shapes and highly saturated colors. Meanwhile, passersby wrote messages that insisted on the essentiality of care work, vocation and on the labor rights of nursing professionals. The second location was the Plaça de l’Estació del Nord in Terrassa, where the artist and illustrator Núria Toll made a care scene of an elder person and a nurse, easily identifiable through the characteristic bluish green color characteristic of the sanitary uniform. With a geometric composition that composed a heart form, Toll captured the specific work of geriatric staff and the invisible collective Pades.
In the busy Plaça de la Vila in Vilanova i La Geltrú, the illustrator Carola Bagnato, whose work is already characterized by the repetition of elements of care and intimacy such as hugs and caresses, opted for a night-time scene in a natural landscape where she represented a nurse and an elder woman in a bouquet of flowers giving gesture. The incorporation of these floral and animal elements, such as the owl, evoked the relevance of nursing for the maintenance of life in a much more global sense than the institutionalized hospital care of humans. It is worth noting the myriad of drawings by the community members and the messages of thanks in Catalan, Spanish and French in the interactive sides. Finally, in the Rambla del Carme in Vic, the illustrator Galleta María developed a work in warm tones to claim the task of nurses and the precariousness of her employment situation. In line with the image, the messages of citizens revolved around recognition and stability for this professional group.