Rosa Quintana standing on the University precinct

New exhibition shows cleaning staff in pandemic

An exhibition of photographs by one of the University cleaning team shows her colleagues working on campus during the pandemic.

Rosa Quintana’s striking images depict staff – often appearing alone – from 2020 to 2021, when many people were working from home.

Like many others, particularly in the Facilities Directorate – including those working in Estates and Facilities, Catering Services and Residential Services – the cleaning team kept the campus running, responding at short notice to changing guidelines.

Rosa’s inspiration

Rosa is a professional photographer from Spain who has lived in Leeds for six years. She said:

“I wanted to show the quiet impact of the team, working in every building doing essential work. This felt particularly acute during the pandemic but we do important work every day.

“We cover morning, afternoon and evening shifts, seven days a week, and I wanted to put on record the different types of jobs we do, particularly as they relate to the different functions of the spaces we clean.

“Although in some of my photographs the architecture of the buildings and the locations dominate the image, the most import aspect is the person you can find if you look closely. These are the cleaners, who make our spaces clean, safe and more comfortable.

Getting to know the team

One of Rosa’s objectives was to get to know her colleagues better and to allow us, as viewers, to do the same. Her captions tell of her colleagues’ lives outside work, their hobbies and their hopes for the future.

Some also talk about previous jobs – seamstress, carpenter, physiotherapist – and about their dreams: owning their own business, studying to be a nurse, teaching in the classroom they are cleaning.

The cleaning team comprises over 350 people, covering all academic buildings on the main University campus. They are essential to the smooth running of the University and to the staff and student experience, providing a professional service to create an attractive and hygenic space for us all.

Jill Roberts, Head of Cleaning Services, said:

“I’m very proud of my hard-working team. Our work helps to enable the University to be one of the best in the country yet we are often unseen, working away in the background. Rosa’s photographs highlight this beautifully.”

 

Cleaner cleaning window ledge with a view of the Leeds cityscape

‘Unobtrusive Impact’ opens today in Leeds University Union

‘Unobtrusive Impact’ is in the Leeds University Union Building, next to the Refectory, from 23 May.

Find out more about Rosa Quintana or visit her Facebook page.

Let us know if you get a chance to visit by sharing your thoughts on social media, using the hashtag #FDImpact.