With his unlimited access to patients in an exodontia (tooth extraction) unit of the Sheffield Children’s Hospital, Andy Brown has created a series of dual portraits. The first is taken in the waiting room before the procedure, the youngsters’ faces the very definition of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and then in the recovery room, immediately after regaining consciousness, with their small features woozy and slightly collapsed by the sedation, occasionally with the slightly grim blood traces of the operation.
These are affecting images, the vulnerability of the patient is palpable before and after and is at times not a little distressing, but then the series is called Being Brave and although it is very easy to make an emotional judgement on the value of the work, they are enormously communicative and successful in their ability to present a relatively quotidian procedure in the reality of the patient who has no memory between the two portraits.
This series of work, together with similarly emotive documentations by Andy that include the chemotherapy and the Neonatal Surgical Unit are part of an exhibition at the Sheffield Children’s Hospital. Fellow photographers Shaun Bloodworth and Richard Hanson were allowed a number of weeks to observe and capture the people and places of the hospital that are not usually seen. The intention was to recognise the uncertainty and extreme emotional tension that can exist in these spaces and “demonstrate that we are not alone in our anxieties and wish to provide viewers time to reflect on and even celebrate what makes their own experiences of The Children’s Hospital so unique.”