Project
Fine Art
Undergraduate
Project
Elle Wardle
National Living Hell
Fine Art
Undergraduate
Elle Wardle
National Living Hell

Looking back on all the work and progress made throughout the year, the artist felt they needed to create a degree piece that reflected their research. “National Living Hell” became a photography-based artwork that explored the challenges the NHS has faced historically and still faces today. Drawing from their research into vanitas, a style similar to it was used to show the deep-rooted history of the NHS in Britain.

After trying out different ways to light the artwork, the artist chose one that cast shadows and darkness over it to create a sense of unease. They wanted the piece to start conversations and cover many topics, so they included dental equipment, medical books, newspapers, money, masks, and gloves. These items allowed them to talk about things like COVID-19 and what the government is doing. They also used symbols in the picture, like rotting flowers, to show how the NHS has struggled during COVID-19 and how it’s connected to their previous work with flowers.

The skull in the artwork has a few meanings: it represents how artistic things help healthcare workers learn, and it also shows death and decay. Candles were used, inspired by old paintings, to show that time is passing and that the NHS has always been there for Britain, even during tough times.

They added banknotes to make people think about how the NHS is funded, and they looked into how dental care works in the NHS and privately. They also made the artwork personal by including blood vials from a hospital visit and their work uniform.

Using a funny title for the artwork was something they thought about. They found out that NHS workers often feel like the government doesn’t take their problems seriously. So, they decided to use a funny title to show this irony. They wanted to show that even though the NHS is important, it’s not always treated that way by the government.

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