Celebrating the faces behind the masks

Photographer Del Francis reveals the faces behind the masks in a series of photographic portraits of local NHS staff from St George’s Hospital, Tooting.

© Del Francis, 2020

In June 2020, photographer and St George’s Hospital staff member Del Francis invited his colleagues from across the Hospital to sit for a portrait as part of a project that looked to honour staff during the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as document this significant moment in history – the greatest challenge the NHS has ever faced. The resulting outdoor and online exhibition, titled Portraits to a Life of Dedication, features 43 portraits that pay tribute to the inner strength, compassion and humanity of those working on the front line, who care for and our country and families at their most vulnerable.

The members of staff depicted have all played a critical role in the response to Coronavirus, and Francis’s portraits offer an insight into the individual personalities that make up St George’s Hospital. In his photographic practice, Del Francis draws inspiration from iconic imagery and classical artists to produce striking and emotional portraits. He explains that “everyone who came along thought it was important … to let the public know that behind their professional appearance was a human being with the same concerns, worries, highs and lows that we all feel.”

Developing this project during a pandemic meant that Del had to adapt how he usually works to follow social distancing guidelines to help keep participants safe. By hosting the exhibition outside patients and staff at the hospital will be able to see the exhibition safely, within government guidelines.

Portraits to a Life of Dedication will be on display in various outdoor locations around the St George’s Hospital until 30 April 2021 and also as an online exhibition here.

The exhibition has been organised by Arts St George’s part of St George’s Hospital Charity, in partnership with St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

© Del Francis, 2020
Alice Kebbay, Lead Nurse for Nursing Associates. © Del Francis, 2020
Rafik Bedair, Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine © Del Francis, 2020
Lidia Assefaw, Staff Nurse, Urology. © Del Francis, 2020
Ali Haddad, Neurosurgery Trainee. © Del Francis, 2020
© Del Francis, 2020