Portraits for NHS heroes

This piece was written by Karen Lord, an established local artist.

At the beginning of the first lockdown, I heard on the evening news of an initiative, started by Tom Croft, a portrait painter in Oxford, for artists to offer a free portrait to an NHS frontline worker. I immediately thought that this was something I had to do.

I intended to only paint one person, but found it difficult to say no! Each painting was painted only from a spontaneous ‘selfie’, snapped quickly in between shifts (thankfully most phones have good cameras!).

I found the whole process rewarding and very moving, hearing my subject’s stories of how Covid 19 had affected their lives.  It was also exciting to be part of a huge movement to capture in a creative way, a moment in this strange time.

Hundreds of artists worldwide have taken part, amateur and professional, thousands of portraits produced, in every medium imaginable, and all done in a spirit of wanting to support the people who look after us tirelessly when we’re ill. The feeling was to ‘give something back’.

All can be seen at #portraitsfornhsheroes on Instagram.

After painting four portraits, it seemed that the situation in hospitals was easing, and I had a break from it in late summer and autumn to return to other creative work. Now I find myself drawn to this again, and am due to start painting number five soon!

April-May 2021