Lisa Timmerman’s third NHS portrait of this series was Abbie, a neonatal nurse at the Leicester Royal Infirmary. When this was painted, Abbie was pregnant and wanted the portrait’s focus to be her relationship with her baby during her experience of the coronavirus pandemic. A pillar of strength in many regards, this included going to baby scans alone due to Covid-19 restrictions. Abbie’s friend, Kate, contacted Lisa and told her of a selfless and caring individual:
“‘[Abbie] is super motivated, kind & passionate in her work & her life in general. Even at her wedding last year she did a [charity] collection for a little girl who she supports”.
This photo, in which Abbie is smiling downward and lovingly holding her baby bump, led to a portrait which celebrates new life and motherhood. Whilst in her uniform, It also commends the modern working-day woman, and the stressful, potentially harmful situation Abbie places herself in to help others.
Relaying her own personal experience, Lisa recalls that painting Abbie was an emotional experience:
“As an artist & mother I found this painting very emotional to paint, thinking of Abbie & how I felt 29 years ago, pregnant with my 1st child.”
Abbie also spoke of her mentality whilst working through the pandemic, stating:
“Covid-19 represents a time where I had to battle with my internal mother instincts to keep my own child safe whilst having my moral compass guiding me to care for other mummy & daddy’s babies.”
Abbie wanted the portrait to represent her strength during this time, coping as a nurse and a first-time mother.
Whilst Abbie’s portrait captures her true likeness, it is ceremonially adorned with flowers, rainbows and balloons. These details were inspired by Czech painter Alphonse Mucha, known for his idealised female figures who were often painted in nature. Rather than capturing a crisis, Lisa hoped to “capture something beautiful in this painting for Abbie, her husband and their first baby”.
When Abbie came to collect her portrait from Lisa, she was thirty-four weeks pregnant. She worked at the Leicester Royal Infirmary, in the neonatal unit, until she was twenty-eight weeks pregnant. At forty weeks, she returned to the Infirmary and gave birth to her first child.
This series of portraits has allowed us the privilege of hearing stories of those working for the NHS, who truly embody the word ‘hero’.
To view more of Lisa’s portraits of NHS Heroes and read their stories, visit her website.