Maltby man shielding from COVID-19 pandemic salutes NHS heroes by painting portraits

A Maltby man shielding at home during the coronavirus pandemic has been using his time to paint portraits of our NHS heroes on the front line.

Wednesday, 3rd June 2020, 3:58 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th June 2020, 3:03 pm

Mark Kelsall, 55, is finding there’s not enough hours in the day as he brings his artwork to life on canvas, working from selfies sent to him by NHS staff.

An amateur painter since his teenage years, Mark said: “I was inspired by artist Tom Croft’s national campaign, Portraits for Heroes, and decided to get involved.

“My niece Natalie Lowe works at Doncaster’s Tickhill Road Hospital and after she put the word around I’ve been sent some photos.”

Maltby resident Mark Kelsall is painting portraits of NHS front line staff to keep busy while he is shielding from COVID-19.

He added: “I've finished around 22 over a four-week period with more in progress. All painted free of charge for the NHS staff.”

It is a labour of love for Mark, who has had a few hospital stays since being born with spina bifida and needing a kidney transplant 10 years ago that brought a premature end to his job as a golf course greenkeeper.

His condition means the virus poses a particularly high risk to his life, and so he has been forced to isolate at home with his partner and step-son.

He said: “It is a hobby that is well suited to my circumstances at the moment. I’ve been moved by the way NHS front line staff have risen to the occasion, including newly qualified doctors and nurses who have gone straight in at the deep end. This is my way of saying thank you.

“Fortunately, I prepared for the pandemic and bought a lot of blank canvases. They have really come in handy.”

He added: “I’m getting up at 5am some mornings to start painting, with each one taking around four to five hours to complete over two to four days, allowing the paint to dry between sessions. It's a sort of production line.

“I like to try and capture the emotion in my subjects’ eyes, depending on how they were feeling when the photo was taken. Hopefully that comes across in the finished product.”

Niece Natalie, a ward manager at Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Trust, said: “I’ve asked him if he can paint one of all my ward staff together on one large canvas, which will be quite a challenge.

“We’re hoping to stage an exhibition of the portraits at the hospital at some point, before Mark hands them on to the staff he has painted.”