Sarah Anthony


Oil on canvas

This work depicts sisters Ange and Trish Kelly, who worked together as nurses in the Emergency Dept at Royal Melbourne Hospital during a surge in the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ange and Trish are shown having just removed the cumbersome PPE they wear to protect themselves and others at work. The resultant lines left by the masks are etched deeply into their cheeks and across the bridge of their noses.

Ange says ‘Covid has stripped me down’. She no longer bothers to fuss with grooming hair, fingernails, or makeup – sweaty PPE and constant sanitising render it pointless. Lunch breaks are functional rather than social; extra hours are spent in infection prevention. Often short staffed due to Covid-19 infections and isolation requirements, ED staff rely on teamwork of colleagues to meet extraordinary clinical demands and ensure the best outcome for patients.

The sisters talk warmly of the resilience, respect, courage and comradeship of their colleagues and how supported they feel amongst their team. In this context it felt important to paint both sisters together. In this painting they represent a homage to all those who toil selflessly and at great personal risk for the benefit of others.