Photographer captures supporters of the arts in photo-series

Extraordinary portraits taken by a celebrity photographer celebrating everyday people who have championed the arts during Covid-19 crisis to go on display in free online exhibition across major galleries

  • Eight UK-based art galleries have joined together with the British Film Institute to showcase same exhibition 
  • It marks the first time ever the galleries have all held the same photography exhibition for the first time ever  
  • Photographs were taken of everyday people who kept the arts alive during the first Covid-19 lockdown 

Eight major art galleries have joined together in a unique way to honour the everyday supporters of the arts amid the Covid-19 crisis. 

Institutions including the National Portrait Gallery in London, Summerhall in Edinburgh and The National Museum of Wales in Cardiff are set to showcase ‘The National Lottery’s 2020 Portraits of the People’ on their websites to celebrate those who have championed the arts during the pandemic.

Celebrity photographer Chris Floyd, who has immortalised the likeness of Sir Paul McCartney and Victoria Beckham, captured 13 artists whose portraits are to be showcased in the free exhibition which will be launched across all the galleries websites throughout November. 

The exhibition is meant to create a ‘moment of history,’ in order to honour and immortalise the work of these ‘unheralded’ champions of the art as well as encapsulating the ways in which art can be expressed.  

Eight major galleries and movie institutions across the UK are coming together too showcase one single exhibition honourding those who have kept the arts alive during lockdown. (Pictured: Author and lead reader for the Open Book group in Brora, Liz Treacher in Dornoch, Scotland, from the series entitled Portraits Of The People commissioned by The National Gallery)

The exhibition – organised by the National Lottery and titled, ‘The National Lottery’s 2020 Portraits of the People’ – celebrates artistic champions for making a significant difference to lifting people’s spirits this year (Pictured: Founding Director of Milton Keynes’ Islamic Arts, Heritage and culture Anouar Kassim)

The incredible portraits capture just some of the everyday supporters of the arts, including Mojisola Elufowoju, who is the founder of Utopia Theatre in Sheffield 

The exhibition, which has been organised by the National Lottery, is funded in part by some of the £30million raised by National Lottery players every week for good causes. 

The pictures will be shown on the websites of the following institution across the UK: Summerhall in Edinburgh, Ty Pawb in Wrexham, The National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, Ruthin Craft Centre in Ruthin, Wales, the MAC in Belfast and IKON Gllery in Birmingham.

In London the photos will be seen on the website of the National Portrait Gallery, the Photographer’s Gallery and the BFI (British Film Institute) and sill be on display at the BFI in Southbank.  

Laura Alridge and Leanne Ross were among those snapped after working on a collaborative art session at the KMAdotcom art studio in Midlothian.  

Meanwhile a portrait of Jennifer Hill, a producer in the Welsh National Opera, is also among the people honoured in the photo series 

Dr Jenny Elliott is the CEO and artistic director or Arts Care, which gives patients, families, staff and visitors in healthcare environment access to the arts 

The organisation is an artist collective, where artists with and without learning disabilities can develop their own creative practices. 

The pair were working on the collaboration when the lockdown started, and thought it would be the end of their collaboration. 

Before the pandemic, Laura was working with Leanne on an exhibition for the Glasgow International Festival (GI), until it was cancelled. In spite of these set backs, the pair continued to work together online. 

Leanne, who has Down’s Syndrome, was expected to be shielding for six months due to the pandemic, not being able to do the things she loved, including her art projects. 

A black-and-white photograph celebrates actress and writer Maria Connolly, of Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland, who set up the 1 Eleven Theatre Company 

Her mother Liz said: ‘She’d be lost if she didn’t have this, she wouldn’t be doing anything, or seeing anyone.’

Laura said:  ‘We’ve all learnt that although virtual interaction doesn’t replace being together in person, we now know that if someone can’t come to the workshop, we can still keep working together. 

‘In the past, nothing happened if people couldn’t come to a workshop but now we just turn on an app and everyone can see each other.’

Thanks to funding from the National lottery to KMAdotcom and Artlink Edinburgh, Laura and Leanne were able to extend their collaboration into lockdown and have created a colouring book to keep people busy while staying safe at home.  

The series look at artists and normal people who have benefited from National Lottery Funding to support the arts during the coronavirus pandemic (Shamin Azad, is the resident poet of Apples and Snakes in London)

Another portrait sees Beth James, who runs Square Pe Art, standing in front of en empty stage. Square Pe Art covers the Kent region, and has drama and singing groups, accessible film clubs and a professional theatre company  

And Leanne has also been commissioned by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Trust to brighten up their ‘Rest and Relaxation Hubs’ across the Glasgow and Greater Clyde area.

Meanwhile, in Brora, Sutherland, Liz Treacher is the lead reader for Open Book, a charity that runs reading and creative writing sessions in communities across Scotland. 

Literature is used by the group to help local people connect, build their community and amplify their voices.   

The charity has been using Zoom to bring together group spreading to eight sectors including prisons, multi-cultural groups, libraries, care homes, islands, healthcare and public groups.   

Another of the striking images shows Vic Brown, who is the founder of New Urban Era, a youth arts projects in Tamworth that includes outdoor murals, beatboxing and breakdancing  

Leanne Ross and Laura Alridge have been collaborating on colouring books to keep people busy while working with the MKAdotcom, a collective studio in Dalkeith which works with disabled and non disabled artists

‘The group has really inspired me during lockdown,’ Liz said. 

‘When you work with adult learners their ideas and images are so amazing that they’re often very inspiring. Really the only reason I started writing was because I’d worked with students for a number of years and somehow what they were achieving pushed me. It pushes me further on my own path. 

‘This recognition from The National Lottery is a real boost and it helps spread the word about what we do and help more people,’ she added.   

Jayisha Patel, who is a beneficiary of the BFI Network Talent Development programme has been filming and documenting Chris Floyd’s photoshoot for a behind-the-scenes short film for the movie institute. 

Another black-and-white image shows Patrick Joseph, a North Wales-based tailor who is turning masks into an artform at his studio in Ruthin Craft Centre

It explores the backstories of the people portrayed in the exhibition. and will be available the BFI’s social media.    

Jayisha said: ‘The Covid pandemic has been a sobering time for the film industry as a whole, and we have all had to pivot to keep our passion alive. 

‘Capturing these incredibly devoted people for this film was a joyful thing to be part of – seeing how they, with the help of National Lottery funding, have fought to keep the fire burning for the arts in a myriad of ways. I

‘I hope this film goes to show the strength and support that can come from taking part in arts projects like these – and how, even through adversity, art and film can thrive in the smallest of ways, and be a benefit to so many, helped along by everyone who plays The National Lottery.” 

Abbie Canning of Q Club in Derby, offers creative outlets for youngsters on the autistic spectrum. She is also featured in the Chris Floyd photo-series 

Penny Rawlings (in the red jacket) has helped the Education programme ‘Preludes’ which delivers music education to the most deprived areas of Bristol to continue working with the community, both in person and online during the pandemic 

Photographer Chris said of the exhibition: ‘Humans are pack animals and our desire, as well as need, to come together – whether physically or digitally – and make common cause is one of our dominant instincts. 

‘This group have all shown a ‘can do’ spirit, a refusal to lay down and give up, despite their own personal and national trials this year. 

‘They have created work and projects specifically designed to fulfil that need for communal strength using the power of the arts. 

‘My aim was to document each of them in a way that showcases and honours that sense of integrity and fortitude, as well as their humour and joie de vivre,’ he added.  

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