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Caroline Forward’s Three #PortraitsForNHSHeroes

Throughout lockdown hundreds of artists from across the UK produced portraits of NHS workers for free as part of the #PortraitsForNHSHeroes initiative which was launched in early April by Oxford-based portrait painter Tom Croft. There was an incredible response to the project inspiring similar initiatives across Europe and North America.

Caroline Forward, a Cambridgeshire artist and member of #WeAreCambsCreatives, completed three portraits as part of this inspiring initiative and we feel privileged to share them with you here on the blog with notes about each of the frontline heroes she painted, including a local nurse who works at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.

You can find a detailed explanation of how #PortraitsForNHSHeroes came about over on Tom Croft’s website here. He talks about what portraits represent and how they immortalise people. He poses the question of who should be immortalised and “line the walls of galleries” today. Tom says: “The people who put self interest and self preservation to one side and literally risked their lives knowingly on a daily basis for our well being. The NHS workers. Absolutely.”

Tom helped to match NHS workers with participating artists directly but due to such high demand he also suggested that any artist willing to get involved with the project posted their offers of free portraits on Instagram. Caroline did just that and was contacted within minutes of posting her offer by Kate, a midwife working in a busy maternity unit in Barnsley.

Kate said to Caroline how difficult it is for mothers giving birth without their nearest and dearest around them. She described the exhausting impact of working in personal protective equipment (PPE), the high levels of staff sickness and therefore staff shortages, and the long shifts.

After completing her first painting Caroline agreed to do a further two portraits. Her second portrait is of Katie, a staff nurse in Coronary Care at Addenbrooke’s. It was incredibly meaningful for Caroline to be able to paint a local frontline worker and she was able to deliver the finished artwork in person – socially distanced of course!

It was a very special moment for Caroline when she met Katie outside her home.

Katie told Caroline that she tries to keep her patients as calm, comfortable and reassured as possible whilst giving them the treatment they need to get better, being their advocate and being there for them especially when they are at their most vulnerable. With no visitors allowed she does as much as she can for their mental health so they feel less alone.

Caroline’s third portrait is of Karen, a paramedic in the West Midlands Ambulance Service. Karen moved her four daughters into her brother’s home at the start of lockdown in order to protect them from her potentially bringing Covid-19 home with her after work. To be separated from your young children for several months is a hardship. Caroline says: “These stories of personal sacrifice by our frontline workers need to be heard.”

It has been a touching and emotional journey for both the artist and subjects. Caroline explains that although the portraits are of the individuals, and that they have been gifted to them as a thank you for all they do, they are also painted in gratitude to and recognition of all those who have done so much during the pandemic. She received some wonderful feedback, notably: “No one has ever done anything like this for me, given me their time and talent in this way.”

You can browse over 13,000 images which have been shared on Instagram with the project hashtag here – it is truly a wonderful and visually moving social media curation. You can also find a small online exhibition of selected works over at The Net Gallery.

It is hoped that there will be a physical exhibition open to the public of #PortraitsForNHSHeroes sometime in the future but in the meantime be sure to follow @tomcroftartist for updates and @carolineforward to see her latest work over! If you are a local artist who has also produced a portrait as part of the project we would love to hear from you – please do get in touch.


Keep up-to-date with what is happening across Cambridgeshire’s creative scene by subscribing to receive our latest news posts via email – and follow our #CambsCreativeScene tag on Instagram.

If you enjoy content from The Trove Cambridge then please consider supporting what we do by buying us a “coffee” at: ko-fi.com/thetrovecambridge

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Lele Saa – Shortlisted: World Illustration Awards 2020

We are really pleased to announce that Lele Saa, member of #WeAreCambsCreatives, has been shortlisted for the World Illustration Awards 2020 presented by The Association of Illustrators (AOI). Lele’s submission was previously selected as one of 500 longlisted projects from more than 4,300 entries – and has now been selected for the final shortlist of 200 projects!

Lele Saa, an illustrator and visual designer based in Cambridge, balances her part-time role as Creative Director at a UX design and innovation studio with her art practice which involves illustration, frame by frame animation and ceramic experiments.

Hooray! It’s a totem parade! is a mural painted on the exterior of Horizon – a centre for adults with learning disabilities in Cambridge. This piece by Lele stands alongside work by various local artists designed to uplift the outside of the organisation’s facilities.

Lele says: “I tried to create a bold image using the space of the wall in an exciting way. The whole mural can be only seen fully from a specific point of view; marked by a spot on the floor. The main totem figure depicts a Phoenix Bird that is reborn from its ashes and gives a positive message to the viewers.”

The mural was completed across 12 sessions between August and October 2019. Lele notes that ‘the composition grew organically’ taking into account ‘the limitations of the bricks and wall elements’ – although the design was planned digitally beforehand.

The project has been shortlisted in the ‘Site Specific’ category for this year’s World Illustration Awards by the AOI, who have been running an annual illustration competition for over 45 years. You can take a look at all of the shortlisted projects here.

The AOI is the world’s leading illustration body supporting and sustaining illustrators and the illustration industry. They present the awards in partnership with The Directory of Illustration which is widely regarded as the world’s leading marketing program for illustrators. This year they had entries from illustrators in 79 countries.

Congratulations to Lele Saa for being shortlisted – this is such a fantastic achievement!

Image by @lele_saa

The award winners, category specific and overall, will be announced on Wednesday 21st October 2020. Celebrations for this year will be rounded off with an online programme of events which is set to include masterclasses, panel discussions and social opportunities for illustrators, agents and commissioners from around the world to meet, explore and celebrate.


Keep up-to-date with what is happening across Cambridgeshire’s creative scene by subscribing to receive our latest news posts via email – and follow our #CambsCreativeScene tag on Instagram.

If you enjoy content from The Trove Cambridge then please consider supporting what we do by buying us a “coffee” at: ko-fi.com/thetrovecambridge

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‘Hector’s Perfect Cake’ by Lily Clarke

Cambridge-based author and illustrator Lily Clarke is crowdfunding via Kickstarter to publish her first picture book titled Hector’s Perfect Cake. Less than 10 days into the campaign, Lily is close to hitting her initial target of £3,000 – but she really needs your support as the project will only be funded if it reaches its goal!

Lily Clarke, member of #WeAreCambsCreatives, works full-time as a technology consultant and also runs a small illustration business, Lily In Space. Lily decided to self-publish her first illustrated children’s story so that she could write whilst continuing the career she enjoys deeply.

Hector’s Perfect Cake is a 28-page picture book about accepting that sometimes things just don’t go to plan.

Lily says: “Children can become fixated on ensuring everything they do is ‘perfect’, believing themselves to have failed if they are unable to achieve this. Hector’s Perfect Cake is a story that teaches children that perfection is not always as important as it might feel.”

THE STORY

Hector is baking a cake for his Granny and he’s determined that it’s going to be perfect. It’s almost finished, there’s just one more ingredient to add – peanut butter! But when Hector discovers that the jar is empty, he decides that he must head out to find some more, or else his perfect cake will be ruined. It’s not long until the party though, so he’ll have to be quick! As time begins to run out, Hector’s luck begins to run out too. He may have to accept that sometimes perfection just isn’t possible.

The campaign is live on Kickstarter until the end of July and you can pledge your support here. Choose to donate any amount or select from one of the project rewards which include signed paperback editions of the book itself and full-colour illustrated bookmarks based on the characters from the story. There are also activity packs and teacher resources available too!

A fixed-format eBook edition of the book will be created if the project hits £3,500 and it will also become available as an additional reward. Pledge for any of the rewards and you will have your name listed on a dedicated supporters page at the back of the book. Find out more at: hectors-perfect-cake.com


Keep up-to-date with what is happening across Cambridgeshire’s creative scene by subscribing to receive our latest news posts via email – and follow our #CambsCreativeScene tag on Instagram.

If you enjoy content from The Trove Cambridge then please consider supporting what we do by buying us a “coffee” at: ko-fi.com/thetrovecambridge

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