A COCKERMOUTH artist is delighted to have been selected for a prestigious national exhibition – and have some of her paintings of key workers included in two books.

Two of Joan Prickett’s pictures are in ‘Through the Locking Glass – Lockdown creations from the artists of Cumbria’, which celebrates the work of key workers. All profits go to Cumbrian NHS Trusts and local arts organisations.

Her painting of community nurse Kirsty Swords has also been included in a glossy coffee-table book, Portraits for NHS Heroes. All royalties will go to NHS Charities Together.

“Out of a few thousand portraits produced, the Bloomsbury book has a selection of 350, so I’m delighted – as is Kirsty,” said Joan, of Blindcrake.

She recently heard that one of her paintings, Greek Matriarch, has been selected by the prestigious Society of Women Artists for their online exhibition which began this week.

“I’m delighted – and honoured to be in the same company as two renowned artists who also come from our county – Kate Bentley and Catherine Macdiarmid.”

She added: “There is so much bleakness about I think art in all its forms can help lift people.”

The artist had to cancel a big show earlier this year as a result of covid so turned her talents to supporting frontline workers.

A national initiative invited artists to provide one NHS key worker with a free portrait as a ‘thank you’ for their dedicated work.

Joan, a former nurse and midwife, ended up doing four.

Her four subjects were Kirsty Swords, a community nurse from Scotland, Megan Daly, an ICU doctor from London, and two Cumbrian health workers: Jules Haigh, a Carlisle midwife (with a new baby), and Eve Richards, Joan’s daughter and a west Cumbrian community physiotherapist.

An accomplished portrait artist, Joan prefers to work from life when possible. “The NHS portraits were challenging for me as I had to work from someone else’s photo and not even meet the subjects,” she said.

“However, I was able to talk with each and hearing their delight at having their portraits painted overcame any resistance I had to working solely from photographs.

“None had ever considered themselves important enough for a painted portrait. It will be something they can keep and show for generations as a record of what they did in this time of the pandemic.”

Through the Locking Glass is published by Inspired by Lakeland. Portraits for NHS Heroes is published by Bloomsbury and will be available in shops from November 12. The exhibition is at: onlinegalleryswa.oess1.uk