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Brighton artist paints thanks to the NHS

Date: 05 December 2022

Portrait of Thomas Medveczky. Thomas and local artist Mike Edwards stood with painting.

An incredible portrait of Thomas Medveczky, a doctor at Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust, has been created by Brighton artist Mike Edwards.

The 60cm x 80cm portrait stemmed from a 2020 project set up by artist Thomas Croft during the COVID-19 pandemic. The project 'Portraits for NHS Heroes’ saw artists offering to paint NHS workers’ portraits as a gift and a token of gratitude.

Feeling powerless and wanting to support the NHS, contemporary artist, Mike Edwards, quickly joined the project. Mike opened the offer to paint an NHS worker and it wasn’t long before Respiratory Consultant, Thomas Medveczky, became the subject of the piece.

Mike said: “The fact that he was one of the first to treat COVID-19 patients in the country, and that he had such a powerful story to tell made him the perfect subject for this portrait.

“I thought the pandemic was such a unique moment in history, and the compelling experiences and stories of the NHS workers were so profound and needed to be captured for posterity.”

Thomas worked as doctor on the frontline throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Treating over 1,900 patients during that time, Thomas experienced the true impact and sacrifices made by NHS staff. He joined Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust in August 2022.

“I had almost overnight to reorganise a 300-bed hospital, create safe zones and wards for COVID-19, train staff and support my team both in a clinical capacity but also pastoral.” said Thomas.

“Of course, every day going to work, there was the thought of contracting COVID-19 and potentially dying as well, but I took the view that one has to do his duty and do my job that I can do best.”

Thomas now works as a Clinical Director for Medicine and Long-Term Conditions for SCFT’s Virtual Wards programme, a national initiative designed to offer dedicated care to patients in their own environment. The service is supported by GPs, offering advice and daily guidance, and is an alternative to a hospital stay.

Speaking of the portrait, Thomas said: “It is a humbling reminder of what I did and where I was during the pandemic. I see it as a symbol I can pass on to my children, to remind them of what their father did in time of great need and global emergency.”

The finished piece contains a technique Mike has developed of creating portraits solely from readable text. If you are close to the artwork, the story can be clearly read, but when you step away, the writing merges to create a visual image.

Thomas’s words, describing his experience as a doctor during COVID-19, have been used in the artwork - making the portrait a powerful representation of a doctor on the frontline of the pandemic.