Group of distressed health workers looking towards camera
Group of distressed health workers looking towards camera. Image by Richard Pelham

“What makes Newham, Newham?”

“What was the most challenging moment during the first wave?”

“And what was your most beautiful?”

During the height of the UK Covid 19 pandemic the London Borough of Newham had the highest per capita death rate in the UK. EXPOSURE is a series of contemporary film portraits of health professionals who worked in and around Newham University Hospital during the first wave of the pandemic. Shot in a DIY and conversational format in my artists studio over the summer of 2020, the portraits expose the complexity of the workers’ experiences, both the challenging and beautiful. The films focus on how humans cope during an extraordinary moment and how this compares to the official narrative we see in the media.  Their stories reveal their moral struggles, resulting mental health challenges and frustrations, but they also speak of their resilience in team work and peer support, and the hope that health inequalities can finally be addressed.

Presented in multiple forms the portraits exist both collectively and individual as:

A live long format documentary, an event that blends collective portraits with live sound, text and installation. This work was presented in community centres in Newham in 2021 and toured since. 

Long form solo portraits for each health care worker to be presented in galleries and online from 2025. Some of the material will be closed to the public for our life time and be realised by Wellcome Collection in over 80 years time to protect individuals privacy and patient confidentiality.

Content warning. Death from Covid 19, Mental Health, Racism.

With contribution and a very special thank you to: Adeola Agbebiyi, Andrew Kelso, Anna Collini, Anni Khan, Arun Mahay, Ben Fraser, Catriona Rowland, Charlie Hubbett, Cath Reeve-Jones, Chris Odedun, Cliodhna Gillespie, Ellie Richards, Emma Young, Esther Murray, Ferha Saeed, Fiona Sarpong, Folasade Ajagunna, Funke (Olufunke) Bella, Giuseppe Labriola, Hafiz Syed, Hannah Prytherch, Helen Parker, Lyunade Oluwatosin Ajibola, James Napier, Jason Strelitz, Jenna Finch, Leigh-Anne Hill, Lily Dryburgh-Smith, Loveness Kamzara, Luxmimalar Velauthar, Maria Vidal, Mike Willis, Petra Francis, Pragna Katariya, Rhonda Reddington, Richa Gupta, Samuel Jerram, Sara Hiles, Sean Bourke, Shabina Hussain, Susie Beck, Vijaya Munian, Yousef Eltuhamy, Yunus Dudhwala, Zarmina Jan, Zara Zaman and Person X.

In collaboration with Dr Emma Young, Dr Cecilia Wee and Newham’s Health Workers.

Design and Performance. Sascha Gilmour.

Lead Interview Producer and Assistant Editor. Becky Sumerling.

Sound Design for live event. Rhiannon Armstrong.

Music Performance for live event. New YVC.

Interview Producer. Kai-Oi Joyce Yung.

EXPOSURE was commissioned by Wellcome Collection, and has received support from Arts Council England, Newham Council, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, The Royal Docks Team Wellcome Collection and Gessnerallee