A mural celebrating African women in healthcare has gone on display at Bath’s Royal United Hospital
The artwork is a product of a three-year pioneering research project by the Young Historians Project – a non-profit organisation formed by young people of African and Caribbean descent.
This inspired Heritage Interpreter and Artist Michele Curtis to set up a studio on the hospital site to create the painting during October’s Black History Month, with assistance from Consultant Artist Nadia Lloyd.
The colourful mural features four African women with local connections to healthcare – including current RUH staff member Olugbemisola Kolade.
RUH Chief Executive Cara Charles-Barks: “We’re so grateful for this inspiring and thoughtful gift.
“I’m so pleased we’ll have the beautiful mural here as a daily reminder of how important our history is and the African women who have contributed to this.
“Our diversity makes us stronger, and it’s vital we continue working on initiatives to welcome staff from all backgrounds and support people to further progress in their careers with us.”
This work by the Young Historian’s Project was funded by the Heritage Fund, and aimed to expand understanding of the history of African women in the NHS and in healthcare more generally.
The extensive research has resulted in a docu-series, an online research hub, an e-book, a podcast – and the RUH’s commemorative mural.
The Young Historians said: “We at the Young Historians Project are proud to unveil the first mural for our project, A Hidden History: African women in the British health service, at Royal United Hospital Bath.
“We’ve been extremely lucky to have commissioned Michele for the mural, who’s perfectly interpreted our ideas and research, and transformed them into a beautiful art piece. We hope this work inspires more people to engage with and research the history of African women in Britain’s healthcare sector, to ensure it is no longer a ‘hidden’ history.”
RUH Transformation Support Officer Olugbemisola Kolade is featured in the mural with other important women from healthcare history:
- Princess Tsehai Selassie who lived at Bath’s Fairfield House when her family was in exile from Ethiopia. She used her time in England to train as a children’s nurse.
- Bijou Bidwell from Sierra Leone who went on to be a prominent nurse and social justice campaigner after studying nursing at the Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI)
- Hannah Jawara, from Gambia, who also studied nursing at the BRI before later co- founding a Gambian organisation promoting education for girls. Mural artist Michele Curtis said: “It’s been an absolute honour to work with the Young Historians Project to create this mural and help their vision materialise. I champion this project and I’m very excited to be a part of its evolution.” The mural is now on display in the hospital’s main Atrium.