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“Pass me my brush, nurse” – Swansea surgeon turns his hand to painting

A Swansea Bay surgeon will swap the operating theatre for the TV screen later this month when he appears on Channel 5’s Watercolour Challenge.

Mr Shehzad Latif will prove he is equally adept at using a paintbrush as he is a scalpel when he competes against three other amateur artists tasked with capturing four different Welsh landscapes.

The popular daytime TV programme, presented by Fern Britton, will see the artists given four hours to paint, in watercolour, the same scene or landscape, often with widely different interpretations, before moving onto another location.

Mr Latif is also a talented poet having won praise from the judges in the international Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine for his poem Singleton Hospital at Night and a poem on spina bifida, inspired by his son who has the condition.

He said: “I do watercolours and pastels, mainly landscapes, with Rhossili being my favourite place to paint.

“It really is one of the most beautiful spots. The other place I have become really found of is the Loughor Estuary, it has beautiful skies.”

The programme is due to air on 31 January. Mr Latif explained he became involved after receiving an email from a friend in the Arts Society of South Wales asking for volunteers wanting to apply for the programme.

He decided to apply and sent some off some of his paintings to the programme-makers.

“One of the producers got in touch via Zoom and said she really liked my work but it would be up to the judges.

“Six weeks later I had an email saying, congratulations, you have been chosen as one of the four contestants.

“The first two sessions took place in Crickhowell, on the Glanusk Estate. It was a beautiful location looking across towards Pen y Fan. Then we moved on to St Donats, near Llantwit Major, before finishing off in the heritage park in the Rhondda.

“As is typical in Wales, we had the whole gamut of the four seasons within two hours.

“The first day was nice and warm, beautiful sunshine, and then one hour into the contest I saw the clouds approach and then we had the wind, the hail and the rain.

“It was fun running from one place to another, trying to save our work.”

Mr Latif, who is based in Morriston Hospital and specialises in abdominal wall reconstruction, said he really enjoyed the experience.

“I learnt a lot. From the runners to the cameramen, and from Fern to the judges, the whole production team were remarkable.

“It was an interesting format, we were just told to paint and the judges came around towards the end and selected the winner of that programme. I believe the viewers will be asked to select the overall winner of the series.”

But even if he wins the competition there is no danger of his giving up the day job.

“I love my job too much to take up painting full time.”

Mr Latif, a member of the Swansea Arts Society who has previously displayed his work in Singleton Hospital, is selling some of his work to raise money for a charity close to his heart.

He said: “As a member of the British Obesity Metabolic Society of Surgeons, for whom I am also poet in residence, I always turn up armed with my poems and paintings. The members really look forward to it.

“And some of my paintings are going to be sold on the Obesity UK Society’s website to raise money for the charity.”

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