04 December 2020

flowers blowing in the wind, red lipstick


I picked this off the The New York Times the other day from an article about COVID surging around the world in this moment.

As one reads about the horrors saturating hospitals all over America it is easy for many to forget the work of all the carers and workers who move behind the scenes. Mostly, the focus is on the patients of course, because people are leaving this world every 37 seconds, so they say. But the doctors, nurses, administrators, orderlies, cleaners, cooks, and so on who keep the hospital structure up and running are at their functioning limit.   

I was wondering just how high the mountain of PPE waste would be. This plastic material is disposed of as Hazardous Waste Material so it would separated from recyclables which would add to the addition of other mountains of waste everywhere.

My real focus is on this photo though. I find it so extraordinary, an image I would have loved to have captured myself. I had never imagined such colour harmonies for PPE. Of course, they would be European, I immediately understood.

The bright Clorox white hospital pants and shoes have turned a pale Ultramarine Blue when seen out of the sunlight in the aftermath of a cloudy sky at twilight. The pavement glistens slightly from rain.

The soft warm Naples Yellow aprons appear richer in hue outside, away from the synthetic Hospital lighting. But there is a hint of red too, perhaps lodged somewhere deep in their tiny microfibres, giving them a tinge of warmth with a peach-coloured tone.

Like small poppies perched atop a field of aprons billowing in the wind, the Carmine Red head caps. A colour of a kind red lipstick worn by confident women. It is a deep, but bright red, without any hint of hesitation nor confusion, like a small faded stop sign.  

Their small hands are raised as if in worship to something higher like one sees in churches in the South when gospels are being sung.

The white masks hide any sign of smiles within but the eyes reassure us of their presence nonetheless.

Somehow, also, they make me think of figures I may have seen in frescoes by Ambrogio Lorenzetti or Massacio, something pre-Rennaissance.

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