Manchester Royal Infirmary

In 2009, the old Manchester Royal Infirmary (MRI) building closed.  It was replaced by the new Central Manchester Hospitals which were built on the site as the old hospital was gradually demolished.  I was interested to know what happened to people's memories of the old hospital, and so, between 2011 and 2014, while artist in residence with Lime Arts, I interviewed staff who had worked in the old hospital.  Discovering that people found it increasingly hard to recall details about the old site,  I developed drawing interviews, as a method for helping people remember.  In 2014 I was commisioned to make a film 'Drawing Back' to be shown in the Central Manchester Hospitals, for 'Culture Shots 2014', a week of cultural activities in Central Manchester Hospitals.

Hospital car-park
Hospital car-park

Initially I collected stories and created my own drawings, turning some of them into simple stop-motion films. This was a story of a psychiatric nurse looking out of the ward window at normal life going on outside.

Making 'Drawing Back'
Making 'Drawing Back'

For my film 'Drawing Back', commissioned for Culture Shots 2015, I interviewed a group of retired nurses who worked in the old MRI. Here they describe how before the days of disposable needles, they would test them to see if they were still sharp.

St Mary's film
St Mary's film

These stills are from a film made in the old St Mary's Hospital, about the way that places store memories. The performer is Kate Engineer.

Making 'Drawing Back'
Making 'Drawing Back'

I interviewed Tommy Higgins, who had worked at the MRI as a porter. Here is is describing how patients on trolleys had to hold their arms in, to avoid getting caught in the plastic doors on the corridors.

'Drawing Back' still
'Drawing Back' still

During our interview, Graham Galloway drew some of the features of the old wards and corridors, and talked about how the noise of the trolleys in the corridor alerted staff that something was coming.

'Drawing Back', shown at the new MRI
'Drawing Back', shown at the new MRI

During Culture Shots 2014, I showed 'Drawing Back' in the hospital, and heard lots of memories about the old MRI from current hospital staff.