Kate praises ‘hugely moving’ image of nurse as photographic project ends

The Duchess of Cambridge has praised a nurse who took an “iconic portrait” of a colleague for the royal’s photographic project documenting life under lockdown.

Kate told Johannah Churchill, whose picture of Melanie Senior has been recreated as a powerful mural in Manchester, the image was “hugely moving”.

Images of sleeping nurses, shielding elderly and chaotic family scenes showing the reality of working from home were some of the images submitted to Kate’s Hold Still initiative, with 100 pictures going on display across the country.

Artist Peter Barber works on a mural in Manchester city centre of Johannah Churchill 's photograph. Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Artist Pete Barber works on a mural in Manchester city centre based on Johannah Churchill’s photograph (Danny Lawson/PA)

Making a videocall as the UK-wide exhibitions drew to a close, the duchess told the nurse: “I think it’s become such an iconic portrait that represents a lot of what frontline workers have experienced and what those of you across the UK have put your lives on the line in looking after us all this year.

“I think it certainly touched us in terms of the judging panel, we felt it was a hugely moving image and I think it has, like you say, it has really resonated with lots of the public too, so well done.”

Ms Churchill’s picture entitled “Melanie, March 2020” shows her fellow nurse wearing personal protective equipment and helping to prepare a Covid-19 clinic for patients as the health crisis took hold earlier this year.

Artist Pete Barber recreated the striking portrait on a wall in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, one of 115 community exhibition sites for the Hold Still project set up with support from the Co-op.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to view some of the images from the Hold Still photography project at Waterloo Station in London. Evening Standard/Jeremy Selwyn
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during a visit to view some of the images from the Hold Still photography project at Waterloo Station in London (Evening Standard/Jeremy Selwyn)

The duchess said about her Hold Still project, launched with the National Portrait Gallery in May: “This was really to showcase all the amazing stories that have come out of lockdown and to show some of the behind-the-scenes realities, the hardships that the frontline workers like yourselves have gone through and experienced.

“I think it was an important part of the story to try to show members of the public and those at home who might not be witnessing what you obviously witnessed on a day-to-day basis.”

Also taking part in the video call last week was Dr Edward Cole, who was helping Ms Senior set up the clinic in south-west London when her picture was taken.

Kate told them: “I hope you have seen and feel the country’s appreciation and pride in all the hard work that you do and all the frontline workers do on a day-to-day basis.”

Today's the day!

The Hold Still digital exhibition is now live and we are delighted to share with you the final 100 portraits selected from the 31,598 submissions! #HoldStill2020pic.twitter.com/n5Jrel657y

— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) September 14, 2020

The duchess launched the photography competition in May in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery, of which she is patron.

More than 31,000 people submitted entries to the project, which aimed to document the nation’s experiences of lockdown.

In a separate video message Kate spoke to all the photographers who took part in her project: “I just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who submitted an image to Hold Still.

“I launched the project with the National Portrait Gallery back in May because I wanted to find a way to allow everyone to share their stories and experiences of lockdown.

“We have been thrilled by the response to the project and I couldn’t be more grateful to each and every one of the 31,000 people who submitted an image.”

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