With the seriousness of COVID-19, and how quickly events unfolded, it was important to hear stories from those on the front line, and to say 'thank you' for their efforts. Which is why I decided to participate in the 'Portraits for NHS Heroes' initiative by Tom Croft.
None could have predicted how many artists from around the world would engage, and that the project would attract social media and publishers attention. Suddenly, social portals were flooded with portraits and stories of healthcare and medical professionals. You can see some of the media coverage here. Only a fraction of portraits painted to-date feature in the permanent online exhibition organised by Google Arts and Culture and Paintings in Hospitals. You can look through these amazing records, including my portrait of Amaki, here. Interestingly, the online exhibition managed to achieve what physical galleries have always seemed to struggle with: an art display combined with a clever presentation of stories behind the works of art. You can view the 800 portraits though multiple lenses: discover the heroes behind the masks, meet their families, explore the artwork by medium, read about how art can help in these difficult times, and many more. What a great result of turning what could have been a boring scroll through all art pieces into insightful curations, introductions and stories. A great space and contribution to the society.
When painting my NHS Heroes, I also captured the painting process to allow others to discover what a digital painting is and how it comes together. Something I enjoy watching myself.
And just when I thought this would be the end of an exciting project journey, I received information that a Portraits for NHS Heroes book is being published by Bloomsbury Publishers Ltd late November 2020. The book presents only a selection of incredible artwork. If you are one of the Heroes, check it out as you may find your portrait there! And for everyone else interested in giving something back, consider purchasing it, perhaps as a Christmas present, since all royalties will go to NHS Charities Together.