NHS heroes to feature in Royal Society of Portrait Painters exhibition
Pictures of NHS “heroes” are to be the highlight of The Royal Society of Portrait Painters’ annual exhibition.
The show, which features around 200 works, opens at London’s Mall Galleries next month.
A painting of a doctor outside London’s Nightingale Hospital a by Melissa Scott-Miller is among the works that will go on display.
Artist Kate Newington’s painting of a medic in PPE, titled Amanda, will also feature.
Artist Melissa Scott-Lee told BBC News her painting (seen at the top of the page) came about because “like so many people, I was so moved by the bravery and selflessness of anyone involved in the medical profession helping save lives and felt so powerless, just painting away in my flat/studio”.
Her painting, which she hopes will be seen as a “token of our gratitude”, is of a doctor called Rich, who sent her a photo of himself in scrubs and PPE.
“He was actually just between incredibly gruelling shifts at the Nightingale Hospital. He had volunteered to help there immediately the call came out,” Scott-Miller said.
“I thought he had such a lovely face I chose to paint him without the mask, etc,” she says. “I think it worked out well, I tried really hard to capture him from the photos, although of course I hadn’t met him.”
Kate Newington created her collage portrait of Amanda, a phlebotomist on the frontline at South Tyneside District Hospital, after her daughter Holly asked for a portrait of her mum as a surprise.
Newington worked from a selection of photos. “I enjoyed making several versions,” she said.
“This is possibly the only portrait I will ever make of someone wearing a mask and a helmet!
“It is really a portrait of a pair of eyes – the eyes needed to express as much as possible about the whole person. It was a tall order and a unique challenge.”
Both artists said they had been inspired by the painter Tom Croft, who set up an Instagram page to match artists with frontline workers, so they could have portraits made of themselves free of charge.
‘All human life is celebrated’
The Royal Society’s exhibition aims to celebrate “the diversity of this fascinating genre” of portraiture.
“It also shows the popularity of commissioning painted portraits by institutions and individuals. All human life is celebrated here and the exhibition always includes some famous faces,” the society said.
“Portraiture is a fascinating barometer of current trends and holds a mirror up to nature in reflecting life in contemporary Britain.”
Famous faces in the exhibition will include the actress Dame Maureen Lipman, and actor Joe McGann.
This year a new £20,000 William Lock Portrait Prize will be awarded to one of the artists featured in the exhibition. Other established awards include the £10,000 Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture and The Prince of Wales’s Award for Portrait Drawing.
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