A damp but exciting afternoon in Truro, west Cornwall, on Wednesday 24 August. Overseas nurses from the Royal Cornwall Hospital met up with Penzance-based photographer Mike Newman for a photography workshop with a difference. The nurses - here to provide an essential boost to hospital staff - 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, Michael Apas, Chloe Mickelson and Ace Gonzales– all from the Philippines – ventured out despite the rain into the market to meet traders, chat and take photographs of them and their stalls.
“It’s a nice link up with nursing,” said Michael afterwards. “Nursing is not just a science, there’s art in it as well. And the same with photography - there's science alongside the art.
‘’This is something that I also learned when I was doing Interpretive Phenomenological research back home: It is that a picture could resound meaningful messages that is hard to explain. Often, we have plethora of experiences in line with our work and some of those experiences needed not to be explained but to be felt.’’
‘’This Photography session is a good avenue wherein we could enhance our ways of translating interactions to a deeper and meaningful level. Isn’t it amazing that we are all complete strangers coming from a different background and perspective, but we are unified with art? It only goes to show the power of photography and how it becomes a unifying force that could 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 you to meet people you might not normally meet,” he said to the nurses afterwards. "But also, for them to meet people they would not normally meet and chat to – you!”
There will be more photography workshops this autumn and photographs taken will be displayed in an exhibition. The workshops are part of our I Packed This Myself project - breaking down barriers and increasing understanding of the vital role played by people born overseas in the Cornish economy – and in particular in the health service.