Chorley GP "flattered" after renowned artist paints him in PPE pose for NHS charity

A GP from Chorley has become the face of an artwork designed to raise money for the NHS – and awareness of the need for proper protection for healthcare workers during the coronavirus crisis.

Friday, 24th April 2020, 9:44 pm
Updated Saturday, 25th April 2020, 12:17 pm

When Dr. Mark Turner posed for a picture at the practice where he works, he never imagined that it would be turned into a painting by one of his favourite artists.

But when London-based Gordon Cheung saw the image, he was moved to commit it to canvas in honour of those potentially putting themselves in harm’s way for the sake of others.

Mark, who was a collector of Gordon’s early work almost two decades ago, says he was “flattered” when he saw the result.

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Dr. Mark Turner - as captured by artist Gordon Cheung and in reality - all set for a shift (painting courtesy of Gordon Cheung)

“It marries up two of the things I love most in life – medicine and art," said Mark, who works at a surgery near Accrington.

In the picture, he is seen in the kind of personal protective equipment (PPE) which has become emblematic of the Covid-19 outbreak – often amid a debate over whether it is being supplied in sufficient quantities to NHS staff in desperate need of it.

“These people are the first among us – and yet some of them are being sent to war without the necessary armour,” said Gordon.

“But they have such noble souls that they carry on with their work regardless, because they want to help people the best way they can.

Contemporary artist Gordon Cheung

“I wanted to surprise Mark and also raise some money for the NHS – even though it shouldn’t be in need of fundraising,” explained Gordon, who is donating all of the proceeds from the painting to a health service charity.

Mark says that he has been provided with the basic PPE to enable him to carry out his work visiting patients at home who are not suspected of having Covid and seeing others at his practice.

“The stuff we have is mostly the kind of thing for if you were doing a normal operation in theatre. We have had one or two of the top notch respirator masks – but you wouldn’t really want to be seeing someone who you were sure had Covid wearing just the ordinary face mask and a plastic pinny."

However, in spite of the trepidation which must surely be felt by those providing health services in the midst of a pandemic, Mark still finds satisfaction - and even considers himself fortunate - to be delivering frontline care.

“I’m still enjoying my work – and I’m quite lucky in this time of limited travel that I get to leave the house every day and do what I’m trained to do.

“And to have one of my favourite artists immortalising me has been wonderful. I kept telling my wife she was married to a work of art – now it’s official,” Mark laughed.

A print of Dr. Turner’s picture will be available from Gordon Cheung’s website until 30th April – www.gordoncheung.com/shop-1

Gordon, who has staged solo exhibitions in major cities around the world, has already raised £4,000 from sales of other works - with donations being split bertween the NHS, the Trussell Trust food charity and Artists' Support Pledge movement to help support artists during the coronavirus crisis.