Nurses react to mural depicting fellow NHS nurse Melanie Senior in Manchester

Manchester has always had a great reputation for its street art and this latest piece of work painted by Pete Barber based on a photograph by Johannah Churchill is up there with the best.

Our reporter and photographer David McLenachan spotted this work while out working on his latest project, photographing the extensive street art culture in Manchester, predominantly in the Northern Quarter.

He said: “By chance, I came about a work in progress, a mural representation of the famous photograph of Melanie Senior, the lead practice nurse in a London GP surgery, taken during the first National lockdown.

“The mural was commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery and given to the well-known artist Peter Barber to paint. I watched the progress over a couple of days, situated on the corner of High Street and Thomas Street.

“From my own perspective I see the fear and worry in her eyes as she stares at you, so it is an unsettling and edgy image for these troubled times. But I also feel a steely determination, as if she is saying this isn’t good, but I’m going to stand up to it. I can imagine she has only just been treating a suffering patient before the shot was taken.”

Peter Barber, who created the mural, is a fine artist and modern mural painter working UK wide. He specialises in spray-painted figures, photo-realism, and murals. His personal work is at home outdoors, alongside other street artists and graffiti artists.

We asked Manchester-based nurses what they thought about the mural.

Jackie Fenemore Nurse Clinician at The Christie said: “I absolutely love this mural. I first saw it on Twitter last week and am definitely going to walk into Manchester next week to look at it in person. It really captures the story of 2020 and Covid-19. The nurse in PPE and looking focused and fearful all at the same time. I think it’s a truly fantastic piece of artwork and a real tribute to nursing. I‘ve never felt more proud to be a nurse than this year.”

Victoria Cooper Macmillan Lead Cancer Nurse said: “Public Art is a collective memory. It is freely accessible. A creative way to chronicle and translate experience through meaningful images.”

The original photographer and nurse, Johannah Churchill is also delighted to see the mural in Manchester.

She said: “It’s so amazing to see her up there. The touching comments from NHS colleagues and fellow nurses I’ve worked with, trained with, and photographed over the years have been extra special to me.

“I hope you feel like she is there in solidarity with you at this difficult time. I absolutely didn’t expect her to go quite so… viral. It’s so timely she’s in Manchester and beautiful to see how they have embraced her.”

David added: “I encourage everyone to take the time to see the mural and explore the ever-evolving art scene in the Northern Quarter and beyond. There is plenty more to see.”


You can see Peter’s work here: 



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