Portraits for NHS Heroes
1455. Tom Croft
Tom Croft, from Oxford, is an artist who created the ‘Portraits for NHS Heroes’ project, connecting NHS staff with over 1,000 artists across the country on social media to paint their portrait for free in thanks for their work.
The project started after Tom, who has previously featured on Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year in 2018, shared on social media an offer to paint a portrait for free of an NHS worker, and providing a painting of Accident and Emergency nurse Harriet Durkin. The concept soon went viral and turned into a global initiative, with the Net Gallery creating a virtual exhibition of 15 NHS portraits, which were installed in Fitzrovia Chapel London in June. Tom has also recently collaborated with Google Arts and Culture and the charity ‘Paintings in Hospitals’ to create an online exhibition and permanent record of over 700 of the NHS portraits, which goes live today. In addition to this, Tom has signed a contract with ‘Bloomsbury Publishing’ to curate a fine art book of a selection of the NHS portraits, publishing this November, with all royalties going to NHS Charities Together.
In a personal letter to Tom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“I want to thank you for bringing together more than a thousand artists to portray the human faces of the extraordinary men and women in our NHS whose courage and compassion has saved so many lives, my own included.
“Beginning with your painting of A&E nurse, Harriet Durkin, Portraits for NHS Heroes is a fantastic way of saying thank you for their incredible service to our country.
“So allow me to wish you every success with your online gallery which will allow our country to celebrate these stories of service for eternity – and to thank you for your own service by recognising you as the UK’s 1455th Point of Light.”
“This recognition is for all the artists who took part and the NHS key workers who allowed us to tell their stories through portraiture. We owe the NHS key workers a huge debt of gratitude for all they do for us on a daily basis.”