A Leicester portrait artist has taken part in a moving BBC One programme, which was broadcast to an audience of millions.
Jemisha Maadhavji was invited to take part in ‘Extraordinary Portraits,’ hosted by comedian Bill Bailey, after producers came across her stunning work online.
She was commissioned to produce a portrait which captured the spirit of NHS A&E doctor Grace, who was disabled after a man fell three storeys and landed head first on her back.
The programme, tracked wheelchair user Grace’s story of courage and determination to be the doctor she had always aspired to be, while showing how Jemisha gathered information and sketches and built a bond with Grace to inform her portrait.
It finished with Jemisha pulling a cloth away from her finished portrait as a big reveal to Grace and her family and friends, with their reactions tugging at the viewers’ heartstrings for a bit of great TV.
The Guardian review said: “The pairing of these women makes for an especially moving episode of this always emotional show.”
Jemisha, who received a BA and MA in Fine Art from De Montfort University, said: “I did see a rough cut a couple of months ago so had an idea of how it may look but I have to say the whole show was amazing.
“I was super happy with the way the show was directed and the way the painting was revealed.
“I knew about the program last year as some artists I know were part of it and since then I really wanted to be part of the show. And months later I was invited to be part of the show which was like a blessing.
“But I’m glad I didn’t know much when I started the painting. I would have been far more nervous than I actually was.”
The portraits of ‘hero health workers’ were commissioned to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the NHS.
“I had a number of meetings with Grace, in the studio, working in the hospital and in her house, where I spoke to her partner. I spoke to Grace about her life and her favourite colours before we had dinner together. We then met in my studio in the LCB Depot with her best friend,” revealed Jemisha.
“I usually spend 45 minutes to an hour with a model to find out more about them, so this was lovely being able to spend extra time with Grace and get to know her more.
“I decided to paint her in one of her favourite outfits because we don’t usually see doctors out of uniform and so never see who they are outside of a hospital.
“When I finished the painting I just really wanted Grace and her family and friends to really like it and think ‘that is me’ or ‘that is my daughter’ or ‘that is my best friend’.
“I’ve never had to reveal a painting before so, when I pulled the cloth away, I was so nervous. But after the reveal they were very happy.
“I felt there was more of a friendly relationship between Grace and I. We are both the same age and it was very easy to connect with each other. It meant the whole process was very informal and far more relaxed.”
“We have stayed in touch. In fact, we were texting each other last week. I felt really lucky to be working with Bill Bailey. I had friends telling me ‘Wow! You are working with HIM!’.
“He was very much a normal person when I met him. There were no barriers or perceived hierarchy and he was very experienced. I learned a lot from him. He was great fun too.”
Grace and Jemisha’s journey can be seen on BBC One’s Extraordinary Portraits at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m001p33l/extraordinary-portraits-series-3-2-grace-and-jemisha