Artist Tom Croft has created a virtual exhibition (installed and scanned observing strict government guidelines) at the Fitzrovia Chapel showcasing portraits of NHS staff, created during the current crisis. The exhibition incorporates work by 15 artists, all members of the Contemporary British Portrait Painters (CBPP), which represents many of the top portrait painters living and working in the UK. The display, which is exclusively available online, was installed and scanned at the chapel. The virtual exhibition celebrates frontline workers through portraiture and will raise funds for NHS Charities Together, to help support to the ongoing COVID-19 relief effort.
Portraits of NHS Heroes was initiated by Oxford-based Croft as a way to help make a difference to the lives of key workers in the current crisis. After putting out an open call on social media offering a free portrait to the first NHS worker to respond, Croft encouraged other artists to do the same. The hashtag, #portraitsfornhsheroes has since inspired similar projects around the world and has attracted thousands of artists to get involved.
The portraits selected for the exhibition encompass frontline workers from across the UK, with the styles and subjects reflecting the diversity of the NHS, as well as the personality of each sitter. The virtual walkthrough is available online at The Net Gallery.com, enabling viewers to experience the exhibition as if they were there in person, and offering a chance for people around the world to connect with the artwork and subjects during lockdown.
Tom Croft, artist and founder of the Portraits for NHS Heroes initiative says: “Portraits for NHS Heroes felt like a way of saying thank you and giving key workers something to possibly look forward to in these exceptionally challenging times. It was also a way of documenting their personal stories and celebrating them through portraiture. The CBPP is a group of some of the best portrait artists working in Britain today and I feel very lucky to be part of the collective. This exhibition is a small, focused collection of works that tell personal stories, both uplifting and tragic.”
Hannah Watson, Chair, the Fitzrovia Chapel, says: “We’ve heard so many wonderful and poignant stories from medical staff who worked at the Middlesex Hospital about how the chapel was a place of great solace and respite for them, a space to draw breath in difficult times. During this period of national crisis, therefore, we’re delighted that the chapel is being used to host this virtual exhibition highlighting the incredible dedication and human stories of our NHS staff.”