Today we will be looking at Lisa Timmerman’s next NHS portrait of Vanessa and her daughter, Ariella. Vanessa is a midwife at Queens Hospital, Romford, Essex, which is one of the largest maternity units in the country.
Vanessa is a single mother, so her daughter, Ariella, had been going to the nursery on the hospital grounds while Vanessa worked during the pandemic. Due to COVID-19 and new mothers as a high-risk group, often their partners were prohibited from staying postnatally. By default, many mothers were without family or friends for that period, which one can imagine was highly distressing.
Lisa met Ariella through the hashtag and artist Tom Croft’s initiative, #portraitsfornhsheroes, on social media:
“Vanessa […] sent me a gorgeous photograph of herself with her little daughter Ariella. Vanessa is a single mother managing her young daughter and her demanding job during a really difficult time with Covid-19 patients and the surrounding anxiety. Their smiles in the photo she sent me say everything I need to know about their relationship”.
From the happiness and intimacy of their relationship, as shown by this photograph, Lisa wanted to capture the “love in their faces” without reference to the pandemic.
Using her classic red background, which has previously provoked a sense of foreboding, it draws us to their attributes of happiness; Sharing rosy cheeks, creased eyes and white teeth, it is clear that they are mother and daughter. Their physical closeness dominates the canvas, as their large smiles bring the viewer comfort in a time which was wrought with fear and uncertainty.
As their relationship appears almost aspirational, it seems fitting that Vanessa’s job and Ariella’s care enable the important monitoring of new mothers. From context, this duo often sacrifice their time together, as Vanessa heroically helps to birth and nurture new relationships between mother and child.
Vanessa and Ariella were ecstatic upon receiving their portrait, as a permanent reminder of their beautiful, unbreakable relationship even in the time spent apart during the pandemic: “As you can see, we are overjoyed.”
In a time where the world felt loud and chaotic, it also slowed everything down with numerous national lockdowns. In this time, it allows many of us to re-evaluate and find a new appreciation for simple things in life. In refining her craft and offering beautiful portraits to those who needed it most, Lisa Timmerman’s legacy will be carried through so many grateful families.
To view more of Lisa’s portraits of NHS Heroes and read their stories, visit her website.