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Belfast Trust nurse reveals the faces behind the masks with new pandemic exhibition

25th March 2022

Andrew Gillespie standing beside his patient

An exhibition of staff portraits captured during the Covid-19 pandemic is now on display in the Tower Gallery at Belfast City Hospital.

Staff Nurse, Andrew Gillespie, has been painting for 15 years and following encouragement from a patient took up portraiture just before the Covid-19 pandemic began. Inspired by the courage and determination of his colleagues, Andrew was motivated to paint more portraits of those he works with as a tribute to their immense contribution through an extremely difficult time.

Reflecting on the exhibition, Andrew said,

“In my 35 years as a Staff Nurse the past 2 years have undoubtedly been the most difficult. Everyone in the health service would probably say the same, but special praise should go to our colleagues in Intensive Care and their perseverance through this storm. Behind each mask, there is a story and I thought it would be a good idea that the paintings would go on display as a way of saying thank you.”

The Arts Care Tower Gallery at Belfast City Hospital is now exhibiting Andrew’s work and noting the impact it has, Anne Quail, Belfast City Hospital Artist in Residence said,

“It is a fantastic exhibition; Andrew has really captured a moment in time and it is so poignant. The addition of the portraits to the Tower Gallery has brought a warmth to the area. The colour and texture creates a less clinical feeling to the space, and the fact that a member of staff has created them makes it even more special.”

With Andrew due to retire this year after a long career in nursing, the exhibition leaves a lasting legacy of his time working in Belfast City Hospital and captures a fantastic insight into the faces and people behind the masks. The gallery is also available to view online at

Watch the video below to find out more about the exhibition.