Etchings given to hospital in daughter's memory

The mother of a young American backpacker who died in Dunedin Hospital has given a series of her own etchings to the hospital's intensive care unit.

Clare Wedding (24) died from meningococcal septicaemia in March.

She developed the illness in Queenstown, and fought it for eight days in Dunedin Hospital before her death.

Her mother, Celia Wedding, a Californian artist, has given the series of bird etchings entitled Bird Song. Yesterday, the 14 works were hung in the corridor leading to the department.

ICU clinical leader Mike Hunter said Ms Wedding's death deeply affected staff, for whom her loss was ''particularly bitter''.

''Some deaths are sad. Some are not. Sometimes you strike one that's particularly tragic.''

Staff had been confident Ms Wedding would fight off the disease.

''We thought we were winning,'' he said.

Mr Hunter has written a poem, For Clare , which will be hung alongside the Bird Song series.

In an email to the Otago Daily Times from the United States, Mrs Wedding said the professionalism, compassion and consideration of ICU staff eased a very difficult time.

Mrs Wedding and husband Randy spent two weeks in Dunedin, having travelled to be with their daughter when she became ill.

''The series is of the small birds native to California that I can see out my windows here on our hillside above the San Francisco Bay.

''During my stay in New Zealand, I was struck by how many similar birds are shared by Dunedin and northern California.

''New Zealand is an ocean away, but my daughter was drawn there perhaps not by the exotic, but by what we have in common.

''Her emails from the South Island reflected as much before her illness.

''It has been a great comfort to my husband and I that she died among friends.''

Ms Wedding had studied the art of Oceania at the University of California, Santa Cruz, which spurred her interest in visiting New Zealand.

Clinical nurse specialist Linda Grady said Mrs Wedding also sent etchings for several staff members as personal gifts.

The Bird Song series was framed in Dunedin, organised by Mrs Wedding from her home in California, at no cost to the hospital.

Southern District Health Board art advisory committee acting chairwoman Barbara Brinsley said the works were a significant addition to the hospital's art collection.

eileen.goodwin@odt.co.nz

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