Paintings in Hospitals presents Healthcare Heroes, an online exhibition of over 700 portraits submitted through artist Tom Croft’s #portraitsforNHSheroes initiative brought together for the first time on Google Arts & Culture.

In March the UK locked down to contain the spread of Covid-19. For many people, this signalled the beginning of a long period of loneliness, stress and anxiety. But at the same time, we also saw many instinctively turn to the arts for comfort and support. During lockdown, artist Tom Croft aimed to harness this power of art and created #portraitsfornhsheroes to galvanise artists across the country and to celebrate the key workers on the frontline of the coronavirus crisis.

 Adebanji Alade, Angels in Disguise, 2020

Paintings in Hospitals collaborated with Tom Croft to gather hundreds of portraits through an open call on social media and to give new life to the growing collection of original artworks. Paintings in Hospitals now joins over 2000 leading cultural institutions who have partnered with the Google Cultural Institute to bring the world's treasures online.

Amit Sood, Director, Google Arts & Culture, said: “The first time I heard about this initiative by Tom it really made an impact on me. The portraits are so emotionally gripping and really moved us all in a way which numbers and words often can't. I'm proud we were able to work with Tom and the Paintings in Hospitals team to help bring this very special collection online and enable audiences across the world to experience this unique project."

Tom Croft, artist, said: “I am so grateful to Paintings in Hospitals and Google Arts & Culture for creating this online exhibition and permanent record for these amazing NHS portraits. I hope it gives the NHS workers a sense of how valued they are by all of us and reminds everyone of their critical work on our behalf on a daily basis. It’s a wonderful opportunity to take the time to view this important virtual exhibition.”

Nick Roberts, Dr Salman visiting his Family, 2020

Sandra Bruce-Gordon, Director, Paintings in Hospitals, said: “Paintings in Hospitals is delighted to be working in collaboration with Google Arts & Culture and Tom Croft to enable increased access to this important art exhibition for everyone. These portraits detail the anxiety, exhaustion, and determination of our care workers in this difficult period. Our ethos is to use art to support health and social care needs; to defeat challenges around stress, loneliness, and mental health. This exhibition commemorates how ordinary people rose to the challenges of the pandemic and became heroes in extraordinary times, giving hope and comfort to millions.”

Explore the Healthcare Heroes exhibition now at:

Cover image: Lauren Carter-Bridges, Essential (detail), 2020.