| 16.8°C Belfast

Coronavirus: Haunting paintings of frontline heroes to be featured in exhibition

Close

A selection of the paintings set to be shown at the Ulster Museum

A selection of the paintings set to be shown at the Ulster Museum

A selection of the paintings set to be shown at the Ulster Museum

A selection of the paintings set to be shown at the Ulster Museum

A selection of the paintings set to be shown at the Ulster Museum

A selection of the paintings set to be shown at the Ulster Museum

A selection of the paintings set to be shown at the Ulster Museum

Powerful paintings chronicling the impact of the coronavirus pandemic are to be showcased in an exhibition.

Londonderry man Barry Turton started his collection of portraits of fatigued frontline NHS staff as a way of expressing gratitude and to document his own journey through the period.

Mr Turton, a retired art teacher who launched the project in March as lockdown took hold, said the images were a kind of diary.

"I did my first painting on the day everyone stood on their doorsteps and clapped for the NHS workers," he added.

"Some of the pieces I have produced have been at the request of other people who wanted a painting of someone they love who is on the frontline, but some of the paintings are very personal to me and my family.

"I did a painting of my mother Gloria, who has dementia and is in a nursing home.

"I painted her sitting on a chair with one of her nurses behind her, waving.

"I did it because I felt so bad for all the relatives of people in homes who weren't able to go and visit their parents or even say goodbye or be there in their final moments.

"I am sure the elderly residents felt abandoned, so in the painting there is a face that could be my daughter or my sister that is whispering in my mother's ear, comforting her."

Another painting depicts his partner Catherine's brother Michael, who has Angelman syndrome, meaning he is brain-damaged and has the mind of a two-year-old.

Mr Turton issued an invitation to people in Derry who wanted a painting of someone on the frontline.

In the end, he completed 10 as a thank-you for their dedication.

Among them were a number submitted to the Royal Ulster Academy for an exhibition in the Ulster Museum.

Mr Turton said the project helped him deal with the crisis.

"I was asked to enter my paintings into this competition because they are paintings of a time that hopefully will never be repeated again," he added.

"Doing these paintings has been my way of releasing what was in my head and recording what happened during this pandemic in the same way as some people do diaries."

Belfast Telegraph