Covid-19 photography exhibition on display in Wigan town centre

Covid-19 photography exhibition on display in Wigan town centre

Petro Bekker Photo Exhibition

Photo L-R: Sonia Halliwell (Wigan Council director of transformation), Councilor Yvonne Klieve (Mayor of Wigan Borough), Paul Ludden (MancSpirit), Petro Bekker, Sheena Wright (ICU Matron)

A sobering photography collection by a Wigan Borough front-line worker is now on display in Wigan Life Centre.

Keen photographer, Petro Bekker works for Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and during the peak of the pandemic, she volunteered to support former colleagues in the intensive care unit, where she had previously worked as a senior sister.

During her time with ICU, Ms. Bekker captured the harsh realities of life on the front line, which make up her collection, entitled ‘#BehindClosedDoors’.

Wigan Council formerly unveiled the exhibition at a small viewing with Ms. Bekker, the Mayor of Wigan Borough, Councillor Chris Ready, WWL representatives and MancSpirit - the charity that organised the exhibition.

Speaking of the display, Ms. Bekker said: “It is my absolute pleasure and honour to have had the opportunity to capture the emotions of the fantastic, resilient, multi-professional team working every day, every shift in an intensive care unit. I hope it gives those visiting the exhibition more insight of what went on behind closed doors during the height of the pandemic.”

This is the second time #BehindClosedDoors has been exhibited. Earlier this year, the collection was available for public viewing in the iconic Manchester Central Library.

Councillor Ready, cabinet member for communities and culture at the council said: “We’ve heard a lot about the overwhelming pressure the NHS has faced and the intense nature of the front-line throughout the pandemic but this photography collection embraces the sobering reality of what our fantastic NHS has had to cope with.

“The photographs are raw, displaying significant emotion and the support colleagues gave and continue to give each other.

“It gives us - the people they’re protecting - a glimpse into a world we don’t usually have the opportunity to see.

“I’m grateful to Petro for capturing these moments and to MancSpirit for making the exhibitions in Manchester and Wigan possible.”

Silas Nicholls, Chief Executive at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said:

“Our patients, our staff and the wider public have faced enormous challenges over the past 18 months, but the way everyone has pulled together to support each other only adds to that sense of pride already felt within the Wigan Borough.

“The teamwork and togetherness on show in the photos represents the experience, not only within our intensive care unit, but across all of our Trust services. It’s important for our staff to be able to share their experiences in ways like this and I’m grateful to Petro and her colleagues for capturing such a unique perspective of the pandemic.

“I would like to thank Wigan Council and MancSpirit for helping Petro to bring the exhibition back to the Wigan Borough for more people to see.”

The photographs will be on display throughout October, at which point the photographs will be included in Wigan and Leigh Archives' Covid Archive so there is a permanent historical record of Petro’s work.

To view the collection, visit the Mezzanine, Wigan Life Centre, Monday-Friday, 10am-2pm.

Posted on Friday 8th October 2021
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