Talented South Tyneside pupils see artworks published after competition winning paintings capture pandemic pain

A talented teenager who captured her thoughts and feelings during the Covid pandemic in a painting has seen her artwork published on the front-cover of a book to raise money for the NHS.

By Neil Fatkin
Monday, 25th April 2022, 4:40 pm

Erin Dunn, 13, was one of hundreds of pupils at Hebburn Comprehensive School who entered a national competition run in partnership between the NHS and publisher, Books About Who.

Children at schools up and down the country were charged with the task of designing a poster or writing a poem which both encapsulated the pandemic and showed an appreciation of the sterling efforts of the NHS.

Not only was Erin’s painting selected to feature in the book, but it was chosen as the front-cover image. The painting includes a drawing of Captain Tom Moore alongside NHS doctors and nurses to a backdrop of the rainbow image which became synonymous with the pandemic.

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Erin said: “I didn’t think I would have a chance of winning. It took almost a year between sending my painting off and hearing back from the publishers and so I thought the winners must have already been contacted.

"I was really excited when I found out my painting was going to be published, particularly when I was told that it was going to be the front-cover.

“I made Captain Tom the focus of the painting as I’d seen on television all the fundraising he’d done and obviously all the doctors and nurses have done such a good job. The rainbow is something I saw throughout the pandemic – on the roads, in people’s windows – and I thought it needed to be in my painting.”

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Hebburn Comprehensive School pupils Erin Dunn, 13 and Christina O'Brien, 12, have had their pandemic paintings published in a book to raise money for the NHS.

The inclusion of a floating picture of a face mask was something very personal to Erin.

She added: “Face masks are one of my biggest memories of the pandemic. By the time you had them on all day in school they used to get really stuffy. I didn’t like wearing them but I understood why we needed to.

"Drawing really helped me during lockdowns and the pandemic. It was something fun and you could use your imagination so you didn’t feel so trapped.”

Also joining Erin in seeing her artwork published is fellow Year 8 pupil, Christina O’Brien.

Hebburn Comprehensive School pupil Erin Dunn, 13, with her painting on the front-cover of the "Thank You NHS" book.

Christina, 12, said: “We were at our caravan near Alston and I remember seeing a crow outside the window. I found it hard during lockdowns as I like to be outside climbing trees – I hate the feeling of being locked up and I got really bored.

"I included the crow as I was looking forward to the end of lockdowns and being able to be free as a bird again. I didn’t think my painting would be chosen but I was really happy when I found out it had been.”

As well as receiving free copies of the book, which is entitled ‘Thank You NHS’, Erin and Christina have also received a top-of-the-range art set and a certificate.

Hebburn Comprehensive School pupil Christina O'Brien, 12, holding a copy of her painting which has been included in the recently published "Thank You NHS" book.

Head of Art, Shameem Sivdiqui, said: “The pandemic was so hard for the students and it’s fantastic to see their work published in the book. They’ve all been effected in some way with members of their families falling ill and even ending up in hospital.”

Copies can be purchased from the Books About Who website with the proceeds going towards NHS charities.