It’s been a year since The Duchess of Cambridge introduced an artistic touch to the boring pandemic life in 2020. The world was going through something we have never experienced in our lives – The life on Hold. The Duchess of Cambridge launched a picture competition ‘Hold Still 2020’ to create a portrait of the Nation during the pandemic and life behind the lockdown.
Today, the project has turned into a Book that has 100 final portraits from the 31k entries the project received. To mark the launch of the book, The Duchess of Cambridge, National Portrait Gallery and Book Fairies UK joined hands and organized a nationwide Treasure-Hunt. They started leaving the ‘Hold Still’ book at the places all around the UK that gave hope during the lockdown.
The Book Fairies are joining judges and contributors to the #HoldStill2020 project to mark the release of the beautiful book! We are leaving copies at places that gave us hope during lockdowns. #HSBookFairies #ibelieveinbookfairies @KensingtonRoyal pic.twitter.com/u2QrNflSHr
— Book Fairies NE UK (@Bookfairies_NE) May 7, 2021
A special hashtag #HSBookFairies has been created on Twitter to follow and find 150 books hidden around the UK. The Duchess of Cambridge herself left the book next to a fountain outside Kensington Palace. Anyone who finds the book from a hidden place will keep the copy.
Each copy is adorned with a gold book fairy sticker, gold/green ribbon, and has a letter from The Duchess tucked inside.
They have asked 100 finalists to join them and leave the copies at places where other people can find them. Since the first announcement, social media has turned into a happy palace where people from London to Northern Ireland are either leaving the copies or finding the copies.
The Hold Still book has already touched the #1 rank in the bestselling book. Net proceeds raised from the sale of the book will be split between the mental health charity Mind and the National Portrait Gallery.
“I have placed my copy at Stepping Hill Hospital as we have said from day one that the NHS are the real super heros and of course we jointly raised £60,000 with our adventures for the NHS so it was the only place I could hide the book.”
— The Book Fairies (@the_bookfairies) May 7, 2021
The funds will help to support arts and mental health projects across the UK, including Mind’s work in local communities and the National Portrait Gallery’s education and community projects. The book contains an introduction from The Duchess of Cambridge in which she talked about her passion and the project,
“For me, the power of the images is in the poignant and personal stories that sit behind them. I was delighted to have the opportunity to speak to some of the photographers and sitters, to hear their stories first-hand – from moments of joy, love and community spirit, to deep sadness, pain, isolation and loss”
Pupils from St. Mary’s Primary School, Leith Links, wirh their deputy head, Fiona Mcdonnell, after finding a copy of Hold Still in their Book Box at the school gates left by an Edinburgh Book Fairy this morning #ibelieveinbookfairies #HSBookFairies #HoldStill2020 @KensingtonRoyal pic.twitter.com/9MzLKIiNlw
— The Book Fairies Edinburgh (@BookfairiesEdin) May 7, 2021
Dr Nicholas Cullinan, director of The National Portrait Gallery said: ‘The public response to Hold Still, which was spearheaded by our Patron, the Duchess of Cambridge, has been phenomenal. The photographs submitted have helped to create a unifying and cathartic portrait of life in lockdown. We are honoured to have been able to share a selection of these photographs with the nation, first through the online and community exhibition and now through this new publication. The proceeds raised from the book will help us to continue to care for and share our national Collection and to provide free access, inspiration and learning, through the work we do at the Gallery and our UK wide community and education projects. Hold Still is an important record of this extraordinary moment in our history – expressed through the faces of the nation – and we hope will remain so for generations to come.‘
Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, added, ‘The coronavirus pandemic is a mental health emergency as well as a physical one. The devastating loss of life, the impact of lockdown, and any recession that lies ahead mean there has never been a more crucial time to prioritise our mental health. This inspiring collection of portraits illustrates the impact of the pandemic in all its complexity, but also how creativity, art and human connection can help us find meaning in unprecedented challenges. Thank you to everyone who submitted a portrait to tell such a moving and deeply human story of the pandemic. And to the National Portrait Gallery and The Duchess of Cambridge for choosing Mind as a joint beneficiary of proceeds from the sales of this book.‘
After leaving the copy outside her home in London, The Duchess of Cambridge headed theRoyal Hospital in London. At the hospital, The Duchess of Cambridge heard how art is commissioned by its award-winning Arts & Health service, Vital Arts, and displayed throughout its wards, waiting rooms and corridors to enhance the environment and, in turn, improve the patient and staff experience.
The Duchess of Cambridge also saw examples of art projects and installations at the hospital delivered by the Vital Arts programme and learnt how the National Portrait Gallery has collaborated with the hospital to bring workshops to young patients and their families through the Gallery’s Hospital Programme.
She met hospital staff who told her about their experiences of working throughout the pandemic and showed examples of some photographs which have been taken by staff from Barts Health NHS Trust to document this period in history. At the peak of the second wave, The Royal London was caring for COVID-19 patients from across North East London including 150 patients who required critical care and treated more than double the number of COVID-19 patients they did during the first wave. The Duchess was presented with the book Oh No, George by Chris Haughton.
The Duchess also viewed a framed portrait of Melanie, March 2020 by Johannah Churchill, which appears on the front cover of the Hold Still book. The portrait, which has been gifted to The Royal London by The Duchess and the National Portrait Gallery, will hang in the hospital’s main corridor as a reminder of the phenomenal efforts of NHS staff throughout the pandemic. Further portraits will be given to locations around the UK for public display over the coming months.
The next stop of the day was the National Portrait Gallery. Catherine is the patron of NPG. During the visit, Catherine met with the photographers behind the 100 final portraits – Lotti Sofia, Niaz Maleknia and Claudia Burton.
During the visit to the gallery, The Duchess of Cambridge saw examples of other photographs from the Gallery’s Collection which demonstrate how photography has been used since the 19th century to document individuals’ experiences and key moments in our nation’s social history.
The Duchess of Cambridge visited the National Portrait Gallery’s archive. The final 100 Hold Still images will become part of the gallery’s national collection. Read the whole journey of the ‘Hold Stille 2020’ project from its launch to the book release here.
The Duchess of Cambridge was absolutely gorgeous in a scarlet red Eponine London Double-wool crepe coat.
The bespoke coat is based on the label’s Autumn Winter 2018 collection and features long sleeves with front button detailing and blue lining that has a print of Piet Mondrian’s amaryllis’ on it. Thanks to Laura on Twitter for sharing the details.
‘Amaryllis‘ was created in 1910 by Piet Mondrian in Fauvism style
The Duchess of Cambridge paired the coat with beige-brown accessories.
She was wearing a Zara Camel Pleated Belted Midi Skirt underneath the coat. Thanks to Middleton Maven on Twitter for the id.
Her Ralph Lauren Celia Calfskin Pumps made a comeback.
Another new element of the look was the DeMillier London Montreal Nano bag. Thanks to Lauren on Twitter for the id. The £295 bag is described as, “Our take on the micro-bag trend, the Nano Montreal is a petite structured cross-body bag with a removable/adjustable cross-body strap and tubular top handle.” The bag is available in 9 shades.
Catherine was wearing her Mappin & Webb Empress earrings.