NHS HEROES - #PORTRAITSFORNHSHEROES 2020
When the UK went into lockdown in March 2020 to contain the spread of Covid-19, artist Tom Croft offered to paint an NHS key worker's portrait for free. Unsure how to help and offer his support, he wanted to capture and record the bravery and heroism of frontline workers who were risking their physical and mental health for our wellbeing.
Tom suggested that other artists might want to do the same. He made his offer via video message on Instagram with the hashtag #portraitsfornhsheroes and was immediately contacted by Harriet Durkin, a nurse at the Manchester Royal Infirmary, who had contracted Covid-19 and, now recovered, was about to return to the front line. Tom's portrait of Harriet, wearing PPE, was the first in what became a global art project.
The response to the initiative was staggering and Tom personally paired up five hundred artists and NHS workers in the first two weeks. When numbers reached the thousands, Tom set up a traffic-light system so that artists and frontline workers could match themselves. Portraits in all media followed, from oils to pencil, sculpture to ceramics, mosaic to mural.
An online exhibition was shown and a fine art book has also been published by Bloomsbury Press. This book presents a selection of these remarkable images. Some are by leading artists such as Alastair Adams and Mary Jane Ansell, and they are showcased as both a celebration and a remembrance, in physical form, of the dedication of our NHS key workers.
All royalties, a minimum of £2.50 from the sale of each book will be paid to NHS Charities Together (registered charity no. 1186569) to fund vital projects and is available online and at all good bookshops.
Tom Croft appeared on Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year and has produced oil paintings for a wide range of clients including the first female bishop Libby Lane, author Mark Haddon and footballers Wayne Rooney and David Beckham.
I am so proud the portrait of my lovely friend Sam has been included in this fine art publication alongside so many incredible artists.
Some more of Sams amazing colleagues.