My name is Grant Milne the founder of Artist Talk Magazine.
July 2019, I decided I wanted to spend more time painting portraits, along with developing a technique that would speed up the process. Prior to this, on average I was painting 1 - 2 portraits a year, which would take me approximately 12 months to complete each portrait. I therefore, decided to challenge myself to complete 26 portraits within a year. I decided to complete 26 A - Z portraits of famous faces, giving myself 6 hours to complete a portrait. The rules being I would split each portrait into three sessions of two hours duration, which would give me enough time to allow the oil to dry between layers.
In March 2020 the UK Government announced a lock down due to Covid-19. During this time I did continue to paint the A - Z portraits of famous faces, becoming aware, via National Media of #portraitsfornhsheroes This concept was created by the portrait artist Thomas Croft. The criteria being, if you are an artist and would like to offer a free portrait to an NHS key worker, then you post a green canvas from Tom’s Instagram @tomcroftartist on your social media. This including the hashtag #portraitsfornhsheroes, then triggers the opportunity for an NHS worker to be able to search for the hashtag, see your offer and contact you directly to apply for a free portrait. Similarly, if you are an NHS front line worker and would like to put yourself forward for the chance to get a free portrait, please look out for the green canvas, by searching for the hashtag #portraitsfornhsheroes and message the artist.
I thought this was a fantastic idea however, initially at the time I did not feel comfortable participating, due to the fact I was not confident I could complete the portrait or that anyone would want one. I decided therefore, to just continue the A - Z portraits. During this time I also had to make the decision to cancel the April 2020 issue of Artist Talk Magazine and hopefully, commercially make this issue available in July 2020. This was a difficult decision to make, as I knew the featured artists would have been excited to showcase the fantastic work they produce.
Three months went by and on the 4th June 2020 I finally decided I wanted to offer a portrait to an NHS Hero and be a part of the #portraitsfornhsheroes. At the time I was painting the famous faces portraits and I felt that my time would be better spent painting the true Heroes I therefore, posted the green square on my Instagram not knowing what to expect. I felt honored to have NHS key workers saying they would love to have a portrait, furthermore they all had incredible stories to share, so I decided I would complete three portraits. At this time I made up my mind to stop the A - Z portraits and focus on painting the three #portraitsfornhsheroes of Hannah Milne, Jessie Jeff and Cassandra Wright.
I was also working on making sure the July 2020 issue was ready to be published, at this point the cover had not been confirmed. Originally I wanted a major Art Gallery to be the focus but I felt with Covid-19 and the restrictions being imposed, now was not the best time.
I completed all three portraits and was personally pleased with the results. I asked Hannah Milne, Jessie Jeff and Cassandra Wright if they would be interested in sharing their stories and experience of Covid-19, they were all happy to do this and were delighted with the prospect of it. The cover had not been decided, so I thought #portraitsfornhsheroes would be the perfect tribute. I initially considered just one portrait being on the cover, but I thought it would be fantastic to include more, in order to symbolize how everyone has worked together to support and trying our best to get through this horrendous pandemic. So I made the decision to contact Thomas Croft, saying how I would love to include his portrait and 16 others on the cover, luckily Tom was happy to support the idea and sent me all the fantastic images.
Thursday 30th July 2020 issue 12 was finally commercially available. I was pleased to showcase more incredible artists from around the globe. All of the artists featured within this issue have given interesting, in-depth and honest accounts about themselves, their work, views and ideas. In addition to the amazing images of the work they produce. All the featured artists can be viewed here - www.artisttalkmagazine.com/featuredartists we are featuring the following; Portraits for NHS Heroes, NATALIA COLA, PAULO AMSEL, PETE REY, PORSCHE, SHANNON MCKEOGH, MARY STEFANOU, K11 MUSEA, MAYA BECK, CHOI WOO-YEUL and CHRISTINA WALSH
The cover of this issue is 20 portraits for our NHS Heroes. This concept was created by the portrait artist Thomas Croft. If you are an artist and would like to offer a free portrait to an NHS key worker, then please post the green canvas from Tom’s Instagram @tomcroftartist on your social media, which includes the hashtag #portraitsfornhsheroes. Then an NHS worker can search for the hashtag, see your offer and contact you directly to apply for a free portrait.
You can view the magazine at www.artisttalkmagazine.com
The feedback was really positive and it was amazing to see how many people have been involved #portraitsfornhsheroes Tom has really done a fantastic job in inspiring the nation. Furthermore, seeing the positivity from the NHS heroes has been amazing to see.
Just before the magazine was commercially available, I felt I wanted to give even more exposure to #portraitsfornhsheroes, I also wanted Hannah Milne, Jessie Jeff and Cassandra Wright to get something positive from the experience. I had this idea of wanting to showcase the portraits on Piccadilly Lights. The Piccadilly Circus is a large advertisement that is a famous feature of central London since 1908, when they hosted the first Perrier advertisement which was created with lightbulbs. Since then, the logos of many household names have been up in lights and the vista has featured in numerous films and TV programmes. Over the years, the technology has evolved too – from simple light bulbs to neon signs in the 1920s, then to digital projectors in the 1990s and on to LEDs in 2011. In collaboration with Ocean Outdoor, we curate public experiences throughout the year at Piccadilly Lights, including our annual pride celebrations.
On reflection I am not sure why I was that confident to email them. In the email I talked about the magazine, about the articles and experience of Hannah Milne, Jessie Jeff and Cassandra Wright and also the 20 #portraitsfornhsheroes on the cover. Amazingly Derek Manns from Landsec did email me back, saying what a great initiative and one they would consider. They amazingly donated 10 minutes of screen time, which had been originally for the NHS, at 8pm each Thursday, as a #lightitblue beacon. I would personally like to say thank you to Derek for firstly responding to my email, but giving me the chance and opportunity.
At this point I once again had to contact Hannah Milne, Jessie Jeff and Cassandra Wright and Thomas Croft. Saying I have this really fantastic opportunity to showcase the portraits on Piccadilly Lights. They all said yes. So working with Landsec, Ocean Outdoor and Make it Blue UK, I designed the copy for Piccadilly Lights. This involved 5 slides, first slide showing in full Thomas Croft portrait of Harriet, then my three portraits on separate slides. With the final slide showcasing all 20 portraits from the cover. Each slide would last two minutes and the full video would be 10 minutes. My friend James Hazeldine from Kudegra Productions put together the video format, adding the transitions between each slide. This was then sent to Ocean Outdoor who made this final export and helped make sure this would be displayed perfectly on Piccadilly Lights. I would like to say a massive Thank you to Pati and David.
I then had the final confirmation that on Thursday 6th August 2020 at 8pm I would be displaying on Piccadilly Lights. Saying Thank You NHS Heroes and showcasing all 20 #portraitsfornhsheroes. We then made the announcement live saying we would show this on Instagram Live, so everyone involved would be able to watch this. At this point I felt the pressure.
Thursday 6th August 2020, 8pm came and I could not believe it was being displayed on Piccadilly Lights. Saying Thank You NHS Heroes and showcasing all 20 #portraitsfornhsheroes, for me this was a brilliant tribute and showed how collaborating with one another we can achieve some amazing results.
View - Piccadilly Lights Video, Thursday 6th August 2020
A couple of days have now past and I decided to write how this all happened. I am truly honoured to have had the amazing opportunity to showcase all 20 #portraitsfornhsheroes inspired by Thomas Croft, which was featured on the July 2020 cover and shown on Piccadilly Lights
Thank you to everyone involved
Thank you NHS Heroes
Thank you Hannah, Jessie and Cassandra for letting me paint your portrait and providing an incredible article for the readers of Artist Talk.
Thank you to Landsec Group, Ocean Outdoor and Make it Blue UK for supporting this campaign, without you this would not be possible
Thank you Thomas Croft for creating and inspiring everyone with your #portraitsfornhsheroes
Thank you everyone who has completed the #portraitsfornhsheroes and thank you to the 16 artists that featured on the cover
Thank you James Hazeldine from Kudegra Productions
Thank you to everyone that has contributed an article to Artist Talk and our new Artist Talk Members. It was an honour to include all the featured articles of issue 12 on the Piccadilly Lights
About Landsec - www.landsec.com
We buy, develop, manage and sell high-quality office, retail and leisure space in London and vibrant regional locations.
About Ocean Outdoor - www.oceanoutdoor.com
Ocean are a facilitator of digital connectivity in the OOH world. We practise “The Art of Outdoor®” by creating inspirational new experiences for today’s aspirational brands.
The Art of Outdoor® is a single minded focus on desirable audiences and locations using the latest technology,
research and data – all wrapped in innovative creative executions. These are the elements that are core to Ocean’s
values and commitment to our clients.
About Make it Blue - www.makeitblue.uk
We began with #LightItBlue – a campaign that prompted hundreds of landmarks and iconic buildings around the world to illuminate blue as a gesture of gratitude to all healthcare heroes and key workers.
With #MakeItBlue we’re inviting people everywhere to get creative and showcase their talents. We’ve galvanized communities across six continents to turn the internet blue with videos, images and messages of hope and positivity.
And now we’ve formed MAKEITBLUE CIC – a community interest company dedicated to raising funds for mental health charities. As live event professionals, our mission is to support industry colleagues in need, while promoting mental health awareness through arts, entertainment and cultural projects.
I am Hannah Milne aged 31 (soon to be 32). I am married to Paul who is a Planning Officer and Mum to Max 7 and Frankie 5. We live in a pretty village called Barrowby in Lincolnshire. I work 30 hours a week as a Staff Nurse on the Acute Care Unit at Grantham and District Hospital, along with 6 hours a week as Service Improvement Lead Nurse for the Mid Trent Critical Care Network. I am very lucky to have parents, grandparents and in laws living in very close proximity, a grandfather in Devon and younger sisters in London and Madrid.
The following is how I came to be in my profession. My maternal grandmother received excellent care in a hospice when I was younger, the nurses care and kind words made a lasting impact on my mum’s memories. This led me to want to be in a career where I could make a difference to people in their times of need.
My A-Level choices were therefore, chosen with a nursing career in mind, biology, psychology and sociology. I then applied to study nursing at Sheffield Hallam University in 2006 and qualified 11 years ago, beginning my career at Lincoln County Hospital and later transferring to Grantham.
We have been very lucky in Lincolnshire that COVID 19 levels have been low compared to other less rural areas, Grantham being especially low. There have been a number of times we have been redeployed to The Pilgrim Hospital in Boston, where numbers were higher and there were staff shortages, due to quite high numbers of staff showing symptoms. Unfortunately a member of nursing staff at Boston died from COVID 19 after being ventilated and treated on ICU. My experience of COVID 19 being a time of great sadness and anxiety within the United Lincolnshire Hospital Trust, but especially at The Pilgrim Hospital. I have worked in a number of areas where patients displaying COVID 19 symptoms were admitted, thankfully with relatively low numbers having positive swab results. Assisting in intubating a patient has probably been the most nerve wrecking experience, as this is when contamination risk is highest. It is quite a weight on your shoulders to try and do all you can for a patient, whilst trying to keep all patients, your colleagues and yourself safe by following strict infection control procedures at all times.
The experiences that I would like to share are those of providing the best end of life care for patients during this time, which has felt more emotional than ever. Limiting the amount of time that family can see their relative before they pass away, has felt like such a cruel thing to do. Work as a nurse during COVID 19 has often felt like a battle between what is scientifically the right thing to do, in terms of reducing risk of infection and considering how patients, relatives and staff are being affected psychologically.
Delivering care, compassion and communication with patients is challenged by COVID 19. Hands have to be held through gloves, patients can’t see staff smile at them behind masks, reassuring words have to be spoken much more clearly. Admission rates have been lower than normal and the patients that have eventually attended, have been much more unwell that we would usually see before they seek help. Most of all I hope that patients know we are doing all we can to keep them safe and don’t risk their lives trying to avoid attending hospital.
Before COVID 19: To relax when I was not working I would take the boys to football three times a week, swimming and beavers. Socialise with family, friends and colleagues. Spend time with grandparents. Drink cocktails, take city breaks, shopping and camping.
During COVID 19: Reading, bike rides, walking, watching Netflix, painting garden fences, standing in queues outside Aldi, delivering food shopping, pretending to be on holiday in the garden, haircutting, playing family football matches, toasting marshmallows, building dens, quizzing on zoom, drinking red wine, cooking and now visiting family in the garden /on driveways.
The affect that working with COVID 19 patients has personally had on me, is that it has felt like an ongoing battle of head over heart. Between wanting to give patients as much of your time in close proximity as they need, without over exposing yourself to the risk of infection. Guilt that you can’t allow relatives to visit. Huge guilt and frustration that some treatment options that would normally have been available to offer to patients, haven’t been available during this time due to high infection risks.
The saying “There is always light at the end of the rainbow” what would you like to see
there?............ I would like to see a sense of normality. Patients not being too scared to come into hospital, that they are putting off getting help when very unwell, their relatives being able to visit and have the reassurance of being able to see their loved ones. Normal services resume at Grantham Hospital, staff deployed back to their usual places of work and us being able to deliver the level of service we previously have. Less worry about bringing COVID 19 home to my children and being able to hug my parents and grandparents
My Name is Jessie Jeff and I am 28 years old, I live in Dorset where I have lived all my life.
I was born in Dorchester however, in recent years have moved to West Parley, where I have bought a house with my partner Andy, my mother Alice and Chris, who is like a father to me, as my own father has never really bothered with me.
I also live with my lovely dogs who always keep me very busy. I live local to Andy’s family who are also like my family. Rosemary who is the amazing Grandmother, Neil jane, Tom, Kelly and my little niece Olivia. I was also very close with DAA, who was like a grandfather to me but unfortunately, he passed away a short time ago. My other family Simon, Sam and their children also keep in touch and still remain in Dorchester.
How did I get into the profession:-
I have always worked in the health care industry since the age of 16. I started in the kitchens washing up and worked my way up into the nursing roles, knowing I wanted to be a paramedic however, it being very difficult to get into. I used to care for my grandad Sam Benham, who I was very fond of and I feel the care he required, caused me to then have an interest into the caring role and this is where becoming a paramedic came to mind.
The experience with Covid 19 has been very challenging, upsetting and above these feelings, very rewarding. As Paramedics we have to have a calm, level headed approach, so as to relax the very scared, anxious and worried patients.
The wearing of the PPE has also been a great challenge, the sore nose and ears and feeling like you cannot breathe properly takes its toll on you however, with your colleagues support you get through, along with support from your family and friends.
The worst experience I had, was when I had to move out of my home into a hotel, which was very lonely. The reason being for this, was due to my relatives being high risk with medical conditions.
Not being able to sit with them at night, or after work and speak with them was most challenging. This being especially after some very sad jobs, where people were dying and suffering was at its peak. Again, it was also very challenging not seeing Andy’s nan Rosemary, who is also like a nan to me too. Not being able to see one another and do the things in life that we all take for granted, such as hugging and visiting each other is a painful, emotional and personal challenge of its own.
When I am not working, I do enjoy spending my time with family and my dogs. Andy and I also spend a large amount of time with Andy’s brother Tom, partner Kelly and niece Olivia which I enjoy, also going on bike rides. My mother and I also spend a lot of time together and have a big enjoyment in spending, which does not help the wallet! Andy and I are also working on our house, which is very much nearing the end, allowing us to do the things we want to do in life, including marriage.
I think mentally Covid 19 has affected almost everyone and it has also been very tiring and challenging. The wearing of PPE along with the wearing of surgical face masks that make your throat sore has been difficult however, with other colleagues you manage to find different coping mechanisms.
I would like to see things go back to normal, which I am sure if we follow government advice and stick to the rules, we will overcome this.
It has been a challenge however, there are still other challenges we need to overcome away from Covid 19. An example of this, being when myself and a crew mate were assaulted by four people. This was an unprovoked attack, where both myself and a crew mate were injured during the pandemic. This therefore, was also very hard to cope with as well as Covid 19. I am however, sure we will beat these challenges in the way that we always do!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for this chance and space to be able to share some of the emotions, feelings and thoughts that I have so far endured and hope the readers of Artist Talk Magazine will enjoy!
My name is Cassandra Wright. I am a staff nurse and work in the theatre department of St John’s hospital Livingston. I have been a nurse since 2012. I have worked in many jobs within the medical and surgical side of healthcare . My role consists of being a scrub nurse and an anaesthetic nurse. This means I either assist the surgeon while he is operating or I assist the anaesthetist while you are going off to sleep.
I got into becoming a nurse through my own hero, My Mum. My mum got into nursing from her Mother and she from her Nanna. My mother started university as I just started high school, just to set the scene she had 4 children aged between 2 and 14, she worked really hard and graduated with a merit. I am really proud to be a nurse and carry on the family tradition. I am such a people person, I love to talk to people and I have found that the smallest things like a smile and conversation can ease a patient’s worries and that is what they remember. Although my patients are sleeping for most of the operations, I really enjoy talking to them before hand and helping ease their nerves before they have their procedure.
My experience of covid 19 will be very different from most. I was actually on maternity leave and I wasn’t due to go back to work until the end of July. I really struggled not being able to help my colleagues and felt really guilty. My family and friends kept repeating a phrase that didn’t sit well with me “I am so glad YOUR not at work”. I know that I am precious to my family and friends and they just want you to be safe however, my friends and colleagues are special to me and I wanted to help. When I returned to work I felt like I had started a completely new job everything was totally unrecognisable, the only thing that was in the same place was the changing rooms. Every day was different as guidance changed. Certain things felt very alien to me but you just have to learn to adapt. The support from my colleagues helped me through this uncertain time and I am so glad that I work with such a lovely bunch.
I think your readers should know that the nurses really felt the support of the public during the pandemic. We do have very difficult jobs and have to face death, illness, loss on a daily basis however, we do get great job satisfaction especially when things go well. It is nice to feel appreciated, health is wealth at the end of the day.
When I am not working I spend time with my family, which includes my wee baby boy. He takes up most of my time. We have really enjoyed our walks and exploring all the beautiful countryside that surround where we live. We are very lucky to live in beautiful Scotland and have access to some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. This time has made me appreciate where I live.
As a theatre nurse I am used to wearing full PPE however, its very intense wearing full RPE. You have to have trust in your mask and that you have put it on correctly. I have had my skin breakdown on my nose. We also have shortages in PPE at times and can feel stressful thinking you might not be able to work and help your colleagues. I always shower before I leave work, it’s a horrible feeling that you might be taking something home to your family.
At the end of the tunnel I would like to see a wage rise LOL. I hope that people realise how hard we work and that we try are very best every day.
On behalf of the readers and myself, I would like to thank all NHS and key workers for all the good you have done and keep on doing
© 20 #portraitsfornhsheroes from the cover of Artist Talk Magazine July 2020 issue