Portraits for NHS Heroes – Book to be Published

Sep 19, 2020Latest News

I am thrilled my painting of ‘Surgeon-Turned-Nurse’, Mr Joel Dunning, is to be featured in a new hardback book this November. The book has been curated by the mastermind behind the Instagram initiative of ‘Portraits for NHS Heroes’ (#portraitsfornhsheroes), artist Tom Croft, and published by Bloomsbury Publishers.

Portraits for NHS Heroes

For artists, lockdown was difficult with their galleries and studios closed to the public and art fairs and exhibitions cancelled. Social media was where many turned for collective support and inspiration. Artist Tom Croft started the ‘Portraits for NHS Heroes’ (#portraitsfornhsheroes) initiative to support hospital workers on the frontline of the pandemic, and it quickly gathered momentum. Artists could advertise on their Instagram account, using the ‘portraits for NHS heroes’ hashtag and healthcare workers could team up with an artist who painted their portrait for free.

Very soon, Instagram feeds were full of artists sharing their incredible work. I looked on with envy as I was too busy at work in the hospital to participate, but I very much enjoyed seeing an ever increasing gallery of work.

Before long, I really couldn’t resist but decided to pick my own ‘NHS hero’ – my privilege I reckoned for being a nurse and an artist!

I approached my colleague, Mr Joel Dunning -a brilliant cardiothoracic surgeon- as I was so impressed by his inspirational response to the pandemic. Joel quickly realised that, with his routine lists cancelled and high numbers of patients expected in critical care, it was nursing hands we were likely to be short of. Critically ill patients in intensive care require a 1:1 nurse to patient ratio, and with plans to expand out critical care capacity to unprecedented levels in response to the developing pandemic, our nursing resource was going to be stretched to breaking point. Therefore, Joel put himself forward to receive training in critical care nursing and started his grueling 12 hour shifts in full PPE.

I was so inspired by Joel’s willingness to do whatever was required and his brilliant leadership. Luckily, he was willing to let me paint his portrait and supplied me with some suitable photographs to work from.

It never meant to be a ‘three-in-one’ portrait – my most ambitious to date- but hopefully it tells the story of a surgeon during a global pandemic who takes on the role of nurse. It did involve a few late nights to complete the work, but hopefully the result has been worth it.

The original picture is now at the entrance to our STRIVE Academic Centre at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to not only remind us of healthcare during these unprecedented times, but also to inspire our future generation of medical and healthcare staff.

Thousands of portraits were created as a result of this initiative, with professional and amateur artists all depicting their NHS heroes with varying techniques, mediums and styles. The hardback book contains over 350 portraits created during the pandemic lockdown. The book is due to be released on November 12th and is available for pre-order now via Bloomsbury Publishing or Amazon.

The best bit……all proceeds and royalties go directly to NHS Charities.

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