People of all ages were invited to submit a photographic portrait, taken in a six-week period during May and June, focussed on three core themes – Helpers and Heroes, Your New Normal and Acts of Kindness. Over 31,000 submissions were received from across the country, with entrants ranging from 4 to 75 years-old.
A selection panel, including The Duchess of Cambridge, National Portrait Gallery Director Nicholas Cullinan, the author and broadcaster Lemn Sissay, the Chief Nursing Officer for England Ruth May, and award-winning photographer Maryam Wahid, met via a video call in July 2020 and undertook the challenging process of selecting 100 portraits for the exhibition. The judges assessed the images based on the emotions and experiences they convey rather than on their photographic quality or technical expertise. Their aim was to select images which create a collective snapshot of the nation over the past few months and reflect resilience and bravery, humour and sadness, creativity and kindness, human tragedy and hope.
Featured here at the National Memorial Arboretum, the nation’s centre of remembrance, the final 100 pictures present a unique and highly personal record of this extraordinary period in our history. From virtual birthday parties, handmade rainbows and community clapping to brave NHS staff, resilient keyworkers and people dealing with illness, isolation and loss. The images convey humour and grief, creativity and kindness, tragedy and hope – expressing and exploring both our shared and individual experiences.