In May 2020, UCLH invited acclaimed photographer Tom Pilston to take portraits of staff at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Tom came to us with a really simple idea. He wanted to capture "a series of proud, sensitive and authentic portraits of UCLH staff at a historic time for the hospital, the country and indeed the wider world".

"As a photographer you get to see, in many troubled parts of the world, just what battling through trauma does to the human face and particularly to the eyes of those living through such an experience. Here was a conflict of a different kind, right on my doorstep; in fact, all around me," Tom wrote in July 2020 in a short essay accompanying the first publication of these pictures.

"We were all coming out of our homes every Thursday night to applaud these people we felt were our heroes. I wanted to meet them, to look into their eyes, to see who they really were and express what this experience has meant to them."

This is his story as much as it is theirs.

Sharon Spiteri
Media Manager, UCLH


First published on Tortoise on 8 July 2020


This exhibition was made possible by the kind assistance of UCLH Charity, the Wellcome Trust, GAMA Healthcare, Farrar Foundation and Tortoise.

UCLH arts and heritage is the hospital arts and heritage project that serves UCLH NHS Foundation Trust and its surrounding community and is funded entirely by charitable donations and fundraising. UCLH arts and heritage is committed to providing a welcoming, uplifting environment for all patients, visitors and staff through the use of a varied and stimulating arts and heritage programme. Its work aims to improve the patient experience, boost staff morale, increase engagement with the arts and celebrate the Trust’s unique heritage and community.