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‘Pass me my brush, nurse’ – Swansea surgeon turns his hand to painting on TV’s Watercolour Challenge

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A Swansea Bay surgeon will swap the operating theatre for the TV screen later this month when he appears on Channel 5’s Watercolour Challenge.

Mr Shehzad Latif will prove he is equally adept at using a paintbrush as he is a scalpel when he competes against three other amateur artists tasked with capturing four different Welsh landscapes.

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The popular daytime TV programme, presented by Fern Britton, will see the artists given four hours to paint, in watercolour, the same scene or landscape, often with widely different interpretations, before moving onto another location.

Mr Latif is also a talented poet having won praise from the judges in the international Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine for his poem Singleton Hospital at Night and a poem on spina bifida, inspired by his son who has the condition.

He said: “I do watercolours and pastels, mainly landscapes, with Rhossili being my favourite place to paint.

“It really is one of the most beautiful spots. The other place I have become really found of is the Lougher Estuary, it has beautiful skies.”

The programme is due to air on 31 January. Mr Latif explained he became involved after receiving an email from a friend in the Arts Society of South Wales asking for volunteers wanting to apply for the programme.

He decided to apply and sent some off some of his paintings to the programme-makers.

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“One of the producers got in touch via Zoom and said she really liked my work but it would be up to the judges.

“Six weeks later I had an email saying, congratulations, you have been chosen as one of the four contestants.

“The first two sessions took place in Crickhowell, on the Glanusk Estate. It was a beautiful location looking across towards Pen y Fan. Then we moved on to St Donats, near Llantwit Major, before finishing off in the heritage park in the Rhondda.

“As is typical in Wales, we had the whole gamut of the four seasons within two hours.

“The first day was nice and warm, beautiful sunshine, and then one hour into the contest I saw the clouds approach and then we had the wind, the hail and the rain.

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“It was fun running from one place to another, trying to save our work.”

Mr Latif, who is based in Morriston Hospital and specialises in abdominal wall reconstruction, said he really enjoyed the experience.

“I learnt a lot. From the runners to the cameramen, and from Fern to the judges, the whole production team were remarkable.

“It was an interesting format, we were just told to paint and the judges came around towards the end and selected the winner of that programme. I believe the viewers will be asked to select the overall winner of the series.”

But even if he wins the competition there is no danger of his giving up the day job.

“I love my job too much to take up painting full time.”

Mr Latif,  a member of the Swansea Arts Society who has previously displayed his work in Singleton Hospital, is selling some of his work to raise money for a charity close to his heart.

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He said: “As a member of the British Obesity Metabolic Society of Surgeons, for whom I am also poet in residence, I always turn up armed with my poems and paintings. The members really look forward to it.

“And some of my paintings are going to be sold on the Obesity UK Society’s website to raise money for the charity.”

(All images: Swansea Bay NHS)

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Art

Former Ospreys player and Paralympic athlete showcases his artwork in new exhibition

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Ospreys rugby player turned Paralympic discus thrower Harrison Walsh from Swansea is this month showcasing his talents away from the athletics stadium and in an art gallery.

London’s Zari Gallery is featuring The Art of the Athlete – an exhibition which runs from 9-27 May and is inspired by sport. Walsh – who is hoping to compete at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this summer – is just one of the artists and he has submitted portraits of Kelly Holmes and Roger Bannister:

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Harrison Walsh

“My work is in pen and ink and I tend to sketch when I’m away at training camps. It’s a bit surreal to be part of an exhibition but I feel really honoured to be part of it.”

The exhibition will raise funds for The Ron Pickering Memorial Fund and the Lloyd Cowan Bursary which was set up by Olympic 400m Champion Christina Ohuruogu after the death of her legendary coach. Both causes raise funds for the next generation of athletic stars.

Walsh spent his youth climbing the Welsh rugby ranks. A professional rugby player for the Ospreys, the prop had played for Wales’ under 16s, 18s and had been selected for the under 20s. But his dreams were dashed in a career-ending injury at the age of 18 in 2015.

But since discovering athletics, Walsh has won bronze at the European Championships in the discus and holds the world record in the shot. And after just four years of training, he was selected for the Tokyo Paralympics

“My time in rugby was cut short so I didn’t achieve my success in but I feel it is bubbling now and that my time is coming.

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“I love throwing. Athletics has given me so much; it’s the best thing to ever happen to me. If I could ony say to that scared 18-year-old, you’ll find a real passion and you’ll be ok.”

Harrison’s work will be on display from 9-27 May 2022 at Zari Gallery, 73 Newman Street, London, W1T 3EJ.

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National Gallery masterpiece visits Haverfordwest

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The Riverside Library, Gallery and Visitor Information in Haverfordwest is welcoming a very special exhibition this spring, thanks to the National Gallery Masterpiece Tour, sponsored by Christie’s.

Hélène Rouart in her Father’s Study by Edgar Degas will form the centrepiece in an exhibition drawn from the National Welsh Portrait Collection at The National Library of Wales, which will be held at the Riverside Gallery, Haverfordwest.

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The exhibition will contextualise the painting through an exploration of the female form in art, and analyse the theory of the male gaze in portraits through the eyes of both female and male artists such as Seren Morgan Jones and Sir Kyffin Williams.

The exhibition will be open from 14 May – 3 September 2022 and will run alongside the current exhibition Pembrokeshire: Past & Present.

Mike Cavanagh, Head of Cultural, Leisure, Tourism and Registration Services for Pembrokeshire County Council, said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity finally to be part of the Masterpiece Tour after the pandemic forced us to put our plans on hold. The arrival of the Degas will have a huge impact on the community and the county’s many visitors, and will inspire, illuminate and raise ambition within the county.”

Pedr ap Llwyd, Chief Executive and Librarian at the National Library of Wales added: “It is wonderful to be able to work with Pembrokeshire County Council and the National Gallery to bring the ‘Masterpiece Tour’ to this region of Wales which gives the residents of Pembrokeshire and those visiting the area the opportunity to see the Hélène Rouart in her Father’s Study by Edgar Degas.”

An exciting series of events and activities are being planned to support the exhibition, such as a special talk about the masterpiece painting by one of the National Gallery’s curators.

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Lead image: Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas. Helene Rouart in her Father’s Study. (Image: The National Gallery, London)

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Hospital’s key workers put in the picture by grateful pupils

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If a picture is worth a thousand words then they are all thank yous when it comes to this painting gifted to the staff of Morriston Hospital.

The stunning artwork was created by talented Bishop Vaughan Catholic School sixth former Emily Paradice-Ruan in a bid to thank key workers for the role they played during the heights of the pandemic.

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Bishop Vaughan Catholic School sixth-former Emily Paradice-Ruan (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

The thoughtful gesture is particularly relevant as the Morriston-based school operated as a childcare facility for key workers during lockdowns with many of those who passed through its gates having parents who worked in the hospital.

Emily, who has depicted the various roles carried out by NHS staff in her painting, enlisted the help of dozens of primary school pupils by getting them to leave their fingerprints in a large rainbow which makes up the background.

Emma Pole, head teacher at Bishop Vaughan, said: “We have very close links to the hospital due to the fact a number of our children have parents working there. We knew what they were going through and we wanted to present it and to say thank you.

“It’s intended to reflect the many roles which the health care sector were fulfilling during the pandemic and the fact that they were putting their lives on the line for us every day. They were certainly experiencing tougher and bleaker times than any of us could ever have imagined.”

Mrs Pole explained that the artist, who was very keen for the hospital to have the painting, had ensured as many pupils as possible had a hand in the work.

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“As a school we were closed during lockdown but open as an emergency childcare setting, welcoming the children of those key workers each day.

“Those children contributed to the picture. The painting was something that Emily did in her own time and she came into school to do it in that childcare phase, with the children.

“Emily carefully formulated it so she painted key workers and those in different careers in the foreground with a rainbow in the back, as the symbol of the pandemic, and within it are the fingerprints of the key workers’ children.”

The painting was presented to the hospital by the school’s head girl and boy, Lauren Powell and Lloyd Thomas, as Emily is away at university.

Lloyd, as aged 17, said: “It’s quite special given everything that’s happened over the last couple of years. We are tremendously thankful for our key workers here at Morriston Hospital.

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“This repays only a fraction of our gratitude for all the work they do here, we’d like to do a lot more. We just hope that this picture is a nice symbol of saying thank you.”

Carol Doggett (left), Interim Director of Nursing at Morriston Hospital accepts the painting from staff and pupils of Bishop Vaughan School outside Morriston Hospital. (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

While 16-year-old Lauren added: “We just wanted to thank everyone for the incredible effort made by the Morriston team during the pandemic.

“I’m really grateful that we could show how thankful we are for all the key workers who risked their families and themselves during the pandemic. They are all just so amazing.

“I’m really glad I was able to see their reaction to the painting. I’m glad they liked it.

“I think it’s really special that the key workers’ children have their fingerprints in there because it shows how everyone was affected, and how we can all group together in times of need.”

The painting will be hung in the hospital’s main corridor, alongside a plaque noting the artist and school, so it is visible to all visitors.

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Carol Doggett, Interim Director of Nursing at Morriston Hospital, said: “It’s an honour to accept this artwork on behalf of all the staff here.

“It truly recognises the journey we have been on over the last two years. I think it will go a long way towards helping us look at that and reflect on that journey, and consider how we move forward.

“The children have really captured the emotional response from the public during the times that we have had the waves of Covid that we have experienced and managed.

“Removing the wrapping off the package was very emotional. We didn’t know what to expect and were so pleasantly surprised.”

Lead image: Bishop Vaughan pupils Lloyd Thomas and Lauren Powell with the painting donated to Morriston Hospital. (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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