Over the last few months I’ve really enjoyed making portraits of members of staff at UCLH. As described in my previous blog post, I’ve been drawing the hospital staff via video call, offering a chance to have a portrait made whilst having a chat and a sit down during this busy Covid-19 period. It’s part of the Arts & Heritage team’s Creative Comfort initiative to support staff wellbeing and it’s been a pleasure to be part of a team of creatives offering their skills in support of the staff.
The project was promoted using posters, social media and with help from UCLH Comms. Staff at the hospital requested a portrait sitting or nominated colleagues for a portrait and it’s been great fun to chat with people from across the organisation whilst making their drawings!
Because of Covid-19 staff are working from home where possible and some of the drawings reflected that with family members in school uniform doing homework and staff wearing headsets for video consultations or team meetings.
From the models perspective: My messy studio and increasingly long lockdown hair!
The Wellcome Trust was providing space in their beautiful building for a staff respite area, with hot food and drinks and some quiet spaces. UCLH Staff Psychology and Welfare teams were on hand to provide support and Arts & Heritage distributed the colouring sheets and activities from Creative Comfort for staff to access during breaks. For the portrait project we arranged a quiet room to pose and a video link via laptop to my studio so staff could pose whilst visiting the respite area. For a few consecutive Thursdays there was a live video feed and only the occasional person to draw so here’s a self portrait I made from the screen whilst on duty.
On a couple of occasions I startled people who’d entered the room unaware of the project and thought I was a video playing until I said hello!
I was also able to display a small but growing number of the portraits, giving a chance for staff to see the drawings. Thank you to Ruth the manager of the staff respite area and to Wellcome for letting me take up a little wall space.
Thanks to Gerwyn Jones for printing the drawings for the Wellcome display.
As mentioned in the title, I have exhibition news with a selection of the staff drawings going on display today at the hospital’s Street Art Gallery! The exhibition is on until 2nd September but unfortunately only patients with an appointment and UCLH staff are able to enter the hospital at the moment.
I would have loved to invite everyone to visit and enjoy a glass of medium quality red wine whilst viewing the drawings but it’s not possible for this show. I will film a short video walk-through of the exhibition though and when I think of it, it’s quite fitting that this exhibition should be private to the staff and patients.
Also a poignant note for me is that some of the paper used for these drawings was given to me by one of the patients I drew at the Cancer Centre some years ago. I think that Doreen would approve of me using it to draw the staff.
A very big thank you to everyone who has posed so far and the project is ongoing. If you are a member of staff at UCLH and would like to have your portrait made or nominate a colleague for a sitting please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you very much to Guy Noble and Laura Bradshaw at UCLH Arts & Heritage team.
One last and most important thank you to all the staff at UCLH and the wider NHS for everything you do, you are amazing!
Stay safe everyone.