CONSTELLATION // A WATCH OF NIGHTINGALES | 2017
This artwork is on permanent display in the Student Services Centre on the third floor of the James Clerk Maxwell Building.
Artist Kate Keara Pelen’s installation comprises a collection of over 100 badges from the former Nightingale Training School at St Thomas’ Hospital, where Florence Nightingale was founder and patron. The Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care is the direct descendant of the Nightingale Training School.
The badges, in the form of eight-pointed stars, have kindly been bequeathed to the Faculty by the Nightingale Fellowship, the alumni association of nurses who trained in the Nightingale Training School of St Thomas' Hospital. The Perseverance Trust funded Kate’s research and the creation of her artwork as a gift to the Faculty.
Kate’s approach to the project stemmed from the definition of constellation - 'a group of stars forming a recognisable pattern’ – along with a fortuitous dictionary entry accompanying the definition, stating that ‘no two patients ever show exactly the same constellation of symptoms.'
To accompany the display, Kate interviewed many students, nurses and academics to create an impressionistic spoken soundtrack, weaving together complementary viewpoints and oral histories into a rich and nuanced chorus. The themes include discussions on vocation, Florence Nightingale herself, paths to and perceptions of the profession, qualities and characteristics of the nurse, highs and lows. These can be listened to as a whole or in thematic sections.
Kate’s research was supported by the Florence Nightingale Museum and members of the Nightingale Fellowship as well as students and staff of the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Midwifery.
Listen to the soundtrack
Read our Q&A with the artist.