Taking place across Southbank Centre, Everyday Heroes is an outdoor exhibition that celebrates the contributions that key workers and frontline staff have made during the pandemic. As part of this exhibition, Alessandro Raho, who lives in St Leonards with his wife and family, has painted a portrait of a neighbour, Precious Nkomo, an RGN nurse at the Conquest Hospital. 

Taking place across Southbank Centre, Everyday Heroes is an outdoor exhibition that celebrates the contributions that key workers and frontline staff have made during the pandemic. Photo by Linda Nylind. 1/9/2020.

His daughter is also a schoolfriend of the daughter of Precious: so Alessandro and his family have been very conscious of how Precious and her husband have been going to work every day while they have had the luxury of working from home.

Alessandro was asked to take part by Ralph Rugoff, director
of the Haywood Gallery. “I immediately liked the idea,” he says. “It was simple. A way of acknowledging what key workers had gone through in these times. It resonated with me.”

He had already talked about how frightening the early days of the pandemic had been and that feeling of “What can I do?” 

He also says the project “brought things to me as an artist” and explained: “I’ve always been interested in the clothes people choose to wear and how that represents who they are. This was an opportunity to not only represent a person but also the whole profession.”

The Southbank Centre Website sums up the Everyday Heroes exhibition as featuring “entirely ordinary but also utterly remarkable people – among them health workers, bus drivers, faith workers and shop assistants – who have helped to keep this country going during the crisis, often working in extremely challenging circumstances and putting their own personal safety at risk.” 

Many of the contributing artists, like Alessandro Raho, have chosen to portray family members, friends, or people in their local communities. “Often disarmingly intimate, each portrait – whether originally rendered in paint, charcoal, photography, collage, or with language – is vividly imaginative and emotionally compelling in its own way.” 

Ralph Rugoff, Haywood Gallery director, comments: “At this particular moment, perhaps more than ever, this kind of outdoor exhibition can play a crucial role in furnishing the inspiration which visual art and poetry provide to our collective imagination and civic life.”

Read more about Alessandro Raho here


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