At the height of the pandemic in 2021, Canberra Health Services commissioned local artists Marzena Wasikowska, Dion Georgopoulos and Waratah Lahy to make works in response to the care provided to COVID-19 patients by Canberra Health Services. Under strict controls and wearing full PPE, the artists visited local testing and vaccination sites and in their different ways, each artist chose to represent the health workers as heroes.
Also in 2021, Ellis Hutch was awarded an Arts ACT Creative Residency with the ACT Health Directorate. As a sound artist interested in language, Hutch conducted interviews with the largely invisible contact tracing workers and brought their experiences to life though an audio-visual work.
After more than two and a half years, the ACT’s Public Health Emergency Declaration – the Territory’s public health response to COVID-19, has been revoked. In its wake, this exhibition can go some way to help us reflect on the enormity of what was achieved by the staff of Canberra Health Services during this time.
Canberra is today one of the most vaccinated cities in the world against COVID-19. Canberra’s health care staff played a pivotal role in achieving these record vaccination rates, but this could only have been done in partnership with the community. With a great sense of civic responsibility and public spirit they embraced the process and rolled up their sleeves to do their part in keeping the whole community safe.
Marzena Wasikowska, Mitchell Covid-19 Testing Clinic 2022, digital photograph. Courtesy the artist and Canberra Health Services.