In January 2020 a discussion and presentation was made between Wolverhampton historian Jefny Ashcroft and Wolverhampton artist Joy Baines about an historical painting titled Nurse Brown from Jamaica by Birmingham-based artist, Irene Welburn, it was the featured subject at the fourth annual Wolverhampton Literature Festival from 31/01/20 to 02/02/20.

Artist Joy Baines and Jefny Ashcroft admire the painting of Nurse Brown 15th January 2020 The Voice

Little is known of who Nurse Brown is in the 1956 painting by the white artist Irene Welburn and the portrait’s young black subject may be the painter’s friend. The painting has thrown up many questions like, ‘Is Nurse Brown still alive? Where did she work? Is the gesture she is so clearly making, a Rastafarian symbol?’

For the Literature Festival presentation Ashcroft was notably joined by Joy Baines. These interactions also reminded everyone that Joy Baines is a ‘Tour de Force’ in the Back arts community. A name that should also be on every artist lovers lips, her work over the years has shown no compromise to her love of ‘Black beauty and form’. The interview for The Voice featured below was written in 2015.

British Artist Celebrates ‘Afrocentric Beauty’ In Exhibition

Joy Baines talks to The Voice about why she loves to paint the black form and how she recreates afro hair: Written by Rykesha Hudson
Like all artists, Joy Baines is inspired by the beautiful things around her. And to her, there’s nothing more beautiful than the black form.
“I don’t have a particular theme to my work apart from my love of celebrating afrocentric beauty – male or female,” the British born, Jamaican-raised artist tells The Voice:

I usually depict them as if they are in a state of grace; it is almost as if they are revelling in their own beauty and sense of self.

With two degrees under her belt – one in fine art sculpture and the other in fine art as social practice – Baines is inspired by human form, especially faces and afro hair.

I am particularly attracted to the richness of dark skin colour. I love the way that the light rests on the surface and reflects a myriad of hues; sienna, reds, yellow ochre, blues, bronze.

At times, the smoothness of the skin seems so polished that it’s almost unreal, like it has been fashioned from the finest mahogany wood or semi precious stone like melanite.

Baines, who is also a qualified art teacher adds:

“I love sculpting the features too, particularly the mouth because of the depth of detail that can be formed on smooth or textured lips.”

When it comes to creating afro hair, Baines enjoys experimenting with a range of materials to achieve kinky curls and thick dreadlocks.

“I’m in love with afro hair – short, long, curly,” she exclaims. “When I’m making the afro hairstyles, I sometimes make them out of punched card flowers, or use resin, sand, plaster, rhinestones, paper mâché, fabric, wool, felt or leather depending on the effect that I’m trying to achieve.

“For dreads, I use the same materials but fashion them differently – more linier.”

The creative adds:

“Plaits can be challenging to sculpt depending on the size, but I love depicting them.

“I like working into the surface of my pictures with a wide variety of techniques, such as stitching, burning, collage, splatter, frottage, printing, and embossing.”

First falling in love with art as a child, Baines explains that it was the work of the 19th Century group of artists, the Pre-Raphaelites that led to her allure of big hair.

“As a child, I fell in love with Pre-Raphaelite art, which depicted graceful women with masses of hair. I also love Benin and Ife sculptures, which are not only beautiful, but also exquisitely crafted.

“I’m sure that those images must have informed my work over time.”
And amongst her male influences was a certain sporting hero.

“Over time, my work consisted of predominantly male images, usually with dreads. At one point I was obsessed with Lennox Lewis!”

Throughout August, Baines is exhibiting her artwork in the gallery at Ward End Library in Birmingham. She usually shows and sells her smaller pictures in independent shops and themed art craft markets across the country, and also in three regular outlets in London.
Most of her customers who have bought the smaller pieces, often request to see the much larger works, so this new exhibition will be “an excellent opportunity to showcase them,” Baines says.

Keen to expand her clientele, the fine artist also runs an online boutique, ArtsFro, where she sells her afrocentric creations including jewellery, clothing, handbags, collectables and gifts.

See also @artsfro.joy.baines ArtsFro Fine Arts

Dr Jeune Guishland-Pine OBE is that rarest of people a Black female Psychologist, working with children and families in both the statutory and voluntary sectors since 1980 and specifically as a psychologist since 1988, with a cumulative experience base of 30 years of working with children and families in the school setting. She is also the wife of Musician Courtney Pine.

She is co-author of Understanding Looked After Children: An Introduction to Psychology for Foster Care (2007), Jessica Kingsley Publishers and editor of Psychology, Race Equality and Working with Children (2010), Trentham Books. She is also co-editor of Supporting the Mental Health Needs of Children in Care:  Evidence for Practice (in press), Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Guishard-Pine set up Bespoke Psychology in 2012. For those interested in finding out more about her research, in her unpublished PhD Research Beyond Father Absence: An Investigation into Black Fathering and Child Outcomes in Britain – in education (Dedicated to the greatness of five black fathers from across the globe: Muhammad Ali, Ruben Carter, Neville Lawrence, Nelson Mandela and Bob Marley) has some interesting findings in the conclusion highlighting the importance of decoloning history and the positive presentation of people with African heritage:

The model of nigrescence highlights the view of ‘self’ from an Afrocentric perspective which includes the collective view of self; arguably a notion that is allied to the collective identity of oppressed peoples. Consequently the understanding of the psychology of black people i.e. Americanised-Africans and Europeanised-Africans must be African-based. The proper understanding of black self-concept must be based on African associations and incorporate African-based analyses and conceptions in this regard. From this series of Studies, we can clearly see the importance of the African self-concept and its psychological basis for the self-concept of African/Caribbean children.

It is both vital and important that the African/Caribbean communitiesdevelop a means to express their authentic experience in this country, and an accurate workable theory is woven in to the discipline of ‘Black Psychology’. It is very difficult if not important, to understand the lifestyles of black people using traditional theories developed by white psychology to explain (in the main) white people.  Although research conducted by African-American psychologists have suggested that when these traditional theories are applied to the lives of black people many incorrect, weakness-dominated and inferiority-orientated conclusions come about. This was not generally the findings from this very early study of black family life and its impact on children in the British context. In fact, there were very few findings to conclude the inferiority’ of African/Caribbean children and/or their families. 

Jeune Guishard-Pine Merits

  • Winner of Men and Women of Merit Award, 2003
  • NHS Excellence in Teamwork Award 2004
  • Winner British Psychological Society Award for Promoting Equality of Opportunity 2004
  • OBE for services to families 2011
  • Winner Skills for Care and Development/Skills for Health Excellence out of Adversity Award 2011

In 2010 Guishard-Pine spoke to The Psycologist Society in their article, One on one… with Jeune Guishard-Pine, on being a Black female Psychology she says:

One thing that organised psychology could do better

It’s about time we had a network within the BPS that is devoted to ethnicity and culture. I set up the Association of Psychology and Culture (UK) with the aim of establishing a database of all research, published and unpublished, on the social science of UK ethnic minority people. It’s simply too huge a remit for a single person to manage, although my forthcoming book considers how we can inform and enhance the work that applied psychologists are doing with a range of ethnic groups in the UK. Alternatively, having a special feature for every Black History Month (October in the UK) in The Psychologist would be a useful start.

One inspiration

My mother worked full time (I am the last of 13). I only really understood her true value when as a full-time working mother myself, my vacuum cleaner broke down one day and I had to sweep the house from top to bottom.   I realised then just how much my mum had contributed physically, mentally, emotionally and financially so that our family could survive. I felt ashamed about how much I had been taking for granted domestically.

One book

Howitt and Owusu-Bempah’s 1994 book The Racism of Psychology: Time for a Change.

One thing that you would change about psychologists

Psychologists should make an effort to link to more diverse social groups. I think too many of us rarely in our personal lives encounter a similar range of people to those we work with.

One vital aspect of psychology in foster care

To notice how easy it is for all of us ‘helping’ the child to mimic the flaws in the child’s birth family.

One great thing about jazz

My husband, Professor Courtney Pine CBE, is pretty amazing! Oh, and his music’s not too bad either! Seriously, to hear great jazz is to hear outstanding musicianship. Jazz musicians are creating music instantaneously rather than writing and rewriting it over
a period of months.

One alternative career path

I would have liked to stick with music/events management from my early days of managing jazz bands if we didn’t end up having six children! Life on the road is no good for children.

One great thing psychology has achieved

I’m really proud of the role that psychology continues to play
in the debates and practice about how one’s sense of self develops – and recovers – from traumas. The various theories both transcend and elevate the role of race and culture in the development of self.

One challenge you think psychologists face

To truly believe in something. I think the politics of human organisations force too many psychologists to blow like the wind in terms of the values about the work we are doing, especially psychologists who are ambitious in status terms.

One role for black fathers

In promoting the self-pride that will strengthen the child’s defences from the violence of racism.

One hope for ‘black psychology’ in the UK

There is a definite need for a renaissance. I think once many of us associated with the black psychology movement got bogged down with balancing family life and the daily struggle of surviving public institutions, we no longer had the energy or the physical time to keep the momentum going. If we can achieve just one major publication every year, that would be a major boost to the movement.

Online only Questions & Answers

One hero/heroine from psychology past or present
Wade Nobles, from people who I hold on a pedestal. Actually I couldn’t really ask for a better boss than the one I have now – thanks Jenny.

One regret
That I still feel that I am not judged on what I say and do.

One nugget of advice for aspiring psychologists
I think it would have to be to keep your mind open to the unlimited possibilities of human behaviour.

One problem that psychology should deal with
I was listening to Radio 5 on the 40th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act and the announcer said that the prediction is that women will not achieve equal pay to men until about 2067. My arithmetic tells me that it will take nearly 100 years to achieve a level of equality between men and women in what is a very advanced society indeed. I am intrigued to know what research is coming out of organisational and social psychology to explain and/or justify this issue.

One cultural recommendation

As a family we’re all huge fans of film. We’ve got a huge black film catalogue but I’ve got pretty eclectic tastes really… I would recommend either Godfather II or The Towering Inferno from the mainstream; and any Coen Brothers as great Indie stuff.

One moment that changed the course of your career
It has to be doing the tour of the law library wing at the University of Hull and seeing row after row of the Old English Law Reports, which made me switch to psychology.

One hope for the future of psychology
Well, maybe not for psychology as such, but I would love to see a President of the BPS that is from one of the visible racial minority groups in the UK.

One proud moment
Personally: a family photo session to commemorate 20 years together as a couple. Professionally: being criticised for being outspoken about the lack of black trainee psychologists – complacency is not an option.

The unveiling of the Mary Seacole Statue at St Thomas’s Hospital on the 30th June 2016

Bernell Bussue, the Royal College of Nursing’s London regional director, added: “The Mary Seacole statue at St Thomas’ Hospital is a fitting tribute to an important figure in nursing.

“Mary Seacole is a symbol of nursing diversity throughout history and an inspirational figure for nurses from all backgrounds today,” he said. “This monument overlooking the Thames means her memory will live on for generations to come.”

Nursing Times ‘Long-awaited Mary Seacole statue is unveiled

Read more about Mary Seacole on Black History Bootleg and here

By A Williams STOCCA (Six Towns One City Carnival Association)

When I first approached Mrs Parker and jokingly stated she had a tale to tell, Mrs Parker was humbled and politely declined, however a week later Mrs Parker contacted me she  had been encouraged to tell her story by her elder sister Gloria, whom Mrs Parker affectionately calls her inspiration. 

Clarissa W Green the 11th of 13 children, (10 survived birth) born to Mary and Nathaniel Green of Deanary Road Lower St Andrew Jamaica.

Clarissa speaks fondly of her parents recalling that they were the best parents in the world, her parents in her words were a solid couple.

In 1956 Clarissa came to England, staying with her elder sister in London, in 1960 Clarissa started her nursing training at Pinewood Hospital in Pinewood, Berkshire. Pinewood Hospital specialised in Pulmonary Tuberculosis it was in 1962 that Clarissa passed her written and oral examination and was certified in the nursing of cases of Pulmonary Tuberculosis.

Certificate for Clarissa W Parker (née Green) for her training to be a qualified Pulmonary Tuberculosis 1 Nurse 1962

In 1962 Nurse Green attended the Prestigious King Edward VII Hospital, Windsor, where she trained in the Medical, Surgical, Gynaecological, Orthopaedic and Paediatric wards from the 24th July 1962 to the 23rd July 1964, where she was certified with conduct being very good and duly qualified to discharge her duties as a Trained Nurse.

Certificate for C W Parker (née Green) as qualified to discharge the duties as a Trained Nurse 1964

Nurse Green recalls that you had to live in at King Edward VII hospital and every 3 months you undertook exams, which you had to pass to continue the rest of the nurse training, Miss Sinclair Brown, Matron was very very strict, but fair. Clarissa recalled, she liked Miss Sinclair Brown as you knew exactly where you stood with her.

Clarissa W Green now a qualified trained Nurse was invited back to King Edward VII Hospital Windsor in 1964 and was presented the Gaymer Jones Prize for Surgery, as she was nominated as the best Surgical Nurse. The award was presented to Clarissa W Green by the then Dean of Windsor. Prizes were awarded as recognition for outstanding work.

Gaymer Jones Prize for Surgery 1964

Clarissa remembers when she was informed of being an awardee, she opted to chose a book by Winifred Hector, Modern Nursing Theory and Practice.  Winifred Emily Hector was the Principal tutor at  St. Bartholomew’s Hospital and was very modern at the time,  credited with introducing modern curriculum and teaching methods to British nursing education.  To this date Clarissa still has this book with the inscription intact.

Modern Nursing: Theory and Practice by Winifred Hector – 1964 Gaymer Jones Prize for surgery

On 3rd December 1964 Clarissa Walberga Green was certified as a Registered Nurse.

Clarissa Walberga Green was officiallly admitted to the General Register maintained by the General Nursing Council for England and Wales and was entitled to use the title of “Registered Nurse” the  Seal of the Council was officially afixxed  on the 30th April 1965.

“Registered Nurse” the  Seal of the Council was officially affixed  on the 30th April 1965

In 1965 State Registered Nurse Green moved to Stoke on Trent Staffordshire which as she recalls when she approached Miss Sinclair Brown her Matron and tutor at King Edward VII hospital, to inform her of her decision, Matron Brown exclaimed leave it to me.

As a State Registered Nurse, C W Green moved to Stoke in 1965

State Registered Nurse Green moved into nurses accommodation just off Queen street, ST4 living within the hospital grounds, offering easy access to The Royal Infirmary Hospital, The Limes Maternity Hospital and The City General Hospital.

It was also in 1965 that Mr Owen Parker met Miss Clarissa Green.

30th June 1966 State Registered Nurse Clarissa Walberga Green after passing the 1st and 2nd examination of the Central Midwives Board, was certified and entitled by law to practice as a midwife.

Certificate for C W Green who passed her First and Second Examination for Midwifery 1966

In 1967 Mr Owen Parker and Miss Clarissa Walberga Green were married in Stoke on Trent.

Clarissa Walberga Parker, Senior Midwife in Charge at North Staffordshire Hospital

Throughout 31 years as the Senior Midwife in Charge at North Staffordshire Hospital, overseeing countless expectant mothers and patients, training upcoming student nurses working with and managing all aspects of her departments, working along side Doctors, Consultants and Professors, Senior Midwife Clarissa Parker affectionately called CP by her equals retired, from the National Health Service after 36 years in service.

Mrs Parker recalls the surprise by others when all the top Consultants made a point of signing her retirement card the signatures and comments speak for themselves.

… the comments speak for themselves, Living Legend

In 1998, North Staffordshire Hospital (NHS) Trust, the Chairman and Members of the Trust Board, placed on record their appreciation of the long and faithful service rendered by Mrs C. W. Parker, after 31 years with North Staffordshire Hospital, a combined service within the National Health Service of 36 years.

1998 Testimonial Certificate of Appreciation of long and faithful service North Staffordshire Hospital (NHS) Trust 31 years.

I would like to personally thank Mrs Parker for sharing her nursing history and her sister Gloria for encouraging her to do so.

Tuberculosis

Footnote: Pulmonary Tuberculosis sometimes known as TB or Consumption was an extremely prevalent disease in London at the time Clarissa was training there to be a nurse and trained to take care of patients with TB. TB is airborne and London had even worse air quality in the 1960’s than it does today. It’s highly contagious. Often a silent killer for the poor and the homeless, many rich and well known people also died from TB. There is now a cure, but the disease has to be identified and even today London has a Find & Treat mobile service to track down those people who have TB and to provide them with treatment. How London Became the Tuberculosis Capital of Europe Guardian 26th November 2018. Although levels of TB are declining, still the 10% of the poorest people in Britain are seven times more likely to contract TB than the 10% richest people in the Britain and its still a killer.

Crimean war veteran nurse and original lady of the lamp

Mary Seacole’s reputation after the Crimean War (1853-1856) rivalled Florence Nightingale’s. Unlike Nightingale, Seacole also had the challenge to have her skills put to proper use in spite of her being black. A born healer and a woman of driving energy, she overcame official indifference and prejudice. She got herself out to the war by her own efforts and at her own expense; risked her life to bring comfort to the wounded and dying soldiers; and became the first black woman to make her mark on British public life. But while Florence Nightingale has gone down in history and become a legend, Mary Seacole was relegated to obscurity until recently.

Mary Seacole was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1805. Her father was a Scottish soldier, and her mother was a practitioner of traditional Jamaican medicine and had a boarding house where she cared for invalid soldiers and their wives. Mary learned about medicine from her mother, soon gaining her own reputation as a ‘skilful nurse and doctress’.

Mary travelled widely – there were two trips to Britain, and in 1851, she joined her brother Edward in Panama, where she opened a hotel. Soon she had saved her first cholera patient, and gained extensive knowledge of the pathology of this disease – which she herself contracted and recovered from.

She was widely praised for her work in treating cholera, and returned to Jamaica in 1853, where there was a yellow fever epidemic. The medical authorities came to her to provide nurses to care for the sick soldiers.

She travelled again to London, where she heard about the Crimean war and how the nursing system there had collapsed. She mad applications to the War Office, the army medical department, and the secretary of war to be allowed to go to the Crimea and tend to the sick and wounded. She pointed out that she had extensive experience, excellent references and knew many of the soldiers and regiments, having nursed them while they were stationed in Jamaica.

But she was turned away by everybody, including one of Florence Nightingale’s assistants. Was it possible, she asked herself,

‘that American prejudices against colour had taken root here? Did these ladies shrink from accepting my aid because my blood flowed beneath a somewhat duskier skin than theirs?’

in her disappointment, Mary cried in the street.

A distant relative of hers, called Day, was going to Balaclava on business, and they agreed to launch a firm called Seacole and Day, which would be a general store and hotel near the British camp in the Crimea. So, at the age of 50, with her large stock of medicines, Mary went to the battle zone as a sutler – a person who follows the army and sells provisions to the troops. The moment she arrived in Balaclava there were sick and wounded to attend to. She opened her British Hotel in the summer of 1855, near the besieged city of Sevastopol. Soon the entire British army knew of ‘Mother Seacole’s’. The soldiers were her sons and she was their mother.

Though some of the army doctors, despite her saving them a lot of work, regarded her as a ‘quack’, others were less bigoted. The assistant surgeon of the 90th Light Infantry watched with admiration as she, numb with cold would administer to the soldiers, giving them tea and food and words of comfort. She was often on the front line and frequently under fire.

It was W.H. Russell, the first modern war correspondent, who made Mary Seacole famous. He described her as:

“a warm and successful physician, who doctors and cures all manner of men with extraordinary success. She is always in attendance near the battle field to aid the wounded, and has earned many a poor fellow’s blessings.

“A more tender or skillful hand about a wound or broken limb could not be found among our best surgeons …. I saw her at the assaults on Redan, at the Battle of Tchernaya, at the fall of Sebastopol, laden with wine, bandages and food for the wounded and prisoners.”

She was, as she had promised herself, the first woman to enter Sevastopol when it fell. But the end of the war left Seacole and Day with expensive and unsaleable stores on their hands. They went bankrupt, and Mary returned to England a financially ruined woman. The Times demanded how could anyone forget the amazing things that Mary had done, and praise only Florence Nightingale?

Lord Rokeby and Lord Paget, both Crimean commanders organised a benefit festival at the Royal Surrey Gardens in Kennington to raise money for Mary. There were over 1,000 performers, and her name was ‘shouted by a thousand voices’.

In 1857, Mary published her autobiography, an outstandingly vivid piece of writing called The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in many lands which was prefaced by WH Russell:

“I trust that England will not forget one who nursed her sick, who sought out her wounded to aid and succour them, and who performed the last offices for some of her illustrious dead.”

England, of course did forget Mary Seacole. She was awarded a Crimean medal, and a bust was made of her by Prince Victor of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, sculptor and nephew of Queen Victoria. The last 25 years of her life, however, were spent in obscurity. She died on 14th May 1881.

“As kids we got used every Christmas to opening our gifts in the evening. He [Thomas Harvey] would work every holiday because a lot of his patients didn’t have any family. It was just to make sure they weren’t lonely around those times as we had each other. That’s the kind of person he was.”

Said his son Thomas, interviewed by the Hackney Gazette on 2 April 2020 ‘The government let down my dad’: NHS nurse’s son asks why he was never tested or given hospital treatment after catching fatal coronavirus

On the 7 April 2020 Channel 4 news interviewed Thomas’s family and reported on the dire conditions of our hospitals that did not have the personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect NHS staff and other essential workers from covid-19 – listen below.

Thomas Harvey a nurse at Goodmayes Hospital in London for 20 years died from covid-19 at home on 29th March. His children reported on Channel 4 news on 7th April

His children had dialled NHS 111 four times and were told that their dad should stay at home. On the second or third call an ambulance turned up in reponse and assessed Thomas, only to say that he was not ill enough to be taken to hospital.

Don’t blame the ambulance staff, they had been briefed.

About the same time another essential worker was admitted to hospital, he stayed in an ICU to monitor his health just in case intervention was required, oxygen, a ventilator.

Surely Thomas should have received the same care that Boris Johnson got?

This is the stark reality of inequality, and even starker for black people like Thomas.

Thomas and his family were let down. As we moved on into April, May, June, we saw many other health and social care workers and their families let down.

As time went on and the statisticians got working and we were told that black people are 4 times more likely to die from covid-19 than white people. This is not because white people have white skins and black people have black skins, it is because of systemic racism.

From March and the coming months, hundreds of NHS staff, social care workers, bus drivers and other essential workers died from covid-19. They worked during the covid-19 pandemic lock-down, but did not have the PPE to protect them from contracting the virus. A disproportionate number were from Black, Asian and Minority Ethinic backgrounds.