One of our members Tom Croft, has started an incredible initiative that has taken UK by storm! Tom was interviewed by Will Gompertz on the BBC News.
Tom Croft – Harriet
“ I was really struggling for focus and motivation in my work when the lockdown started, as painting seemed a bit helpless and pointless in the grand scheme of things.
However when I thought more about the point of a portrait and how it can celebrate someone, preserve, record a moment in time and possibly even elevate the status of those depicted, I thought NHS key workers deserved to have their stories told through portraiture. I went on social media and recorded a message offering a free portrait painting to the first NHS key worker to contact me. I then suggested other portrait artists could offer the same so we could give as many NHS staff the chance for something positive to look forward to during these incredibly challenging times.
So the first person to message me asking for a portrait was Harriet Durkin. She is an A & E nurse at Manchester Royal Infirmary. She had contracted the Covid-19 virus and had to self isolate, but as soon as she recovered she went back to work. Her bravery and selfless dedication to help others absolutely amazes me. Other artists including OAS members also offered a free portrait and some have even taken on multiple portraits. The idea has grown to the point that I have been overwhelmed by the numbers of artists and NHS key workers wanting to offer and receive a portrait. I stopped counting after I matched 500 people. There are now similar initiatives based on this idea in Ireland, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Malaysia, Poland and America.
It’s lovely to see it grow.
There will be an online exhibition of all the works produced and my hope is to have a physical exhibition in the future too, when restrictions are lifted and mass gatherings are allowed again. It would be a lovely chance to say thank you to all the health care workers for the brave work they do for us on a daily basis. It would also be a chance to read about their experiences on the front line during the pandemic.
If you look on Instagram under the hashtag #portraitsfornhsheroes you can see all the portraits as they come in. There will be an online gallery hopefully in the form of a website soon, which I will update the society on, then I am talking to some major galleries about a large physical exhibition in the future. “