Corona Lisa: Long days in PPE inspire student to reimagine Da Vinci masterpiece

Trainee nurse Chloe Slevin to auction painting to raise funds for children’s hospice

A trainee nurse who has been reinterpreting art masterpieces to tell the story of the Covid-19 pandemic has painted the “Corona Lisa” to raise money for charity.

The striking piece by Chloe Slevin has Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa dressed in full personal protective equipment (PPE) used by healthcare workers.

The 21-year-old artist, also a third-year nursing student at University College Dublin, is auctioning the painting to raise funds for children’s hospice LauraLynn. She drew inspiration from her experiences during a recent placement on a children’s emergency ward.

“The PPE became normal to us and we were wearing it day in, day out, and that’s kind of what inspired the Corona Lisa,” she said.

“I loved this placement but it was a very tough time. There I experienced my first paediatric cardiac arrest and that’s something you’d never forget. You never forget the moment you got that phone call, we ran in to put on our PPE and we did everything we could.

“It was probably the toughest thing I’ve gone through so far, it was an incredibly difficult time. The impact it had on me, I still get emotional talking about it today. With this painting, I was able to turn to this and use that as my own form of art therapy and a distraction.”

Ms Slevin said the painting “holds a special place for me now because of where it came” from, and that it illustrates what many healthcare staff have been through during the pandemic.

“You’re smothered in PPE and it’s tough. It was a very tough placement but I hope to one day get a job there. That’s my dream to work in an emergency department,” she said.

The Corona Lisa is the latest famous artwork the Dublin student has recreated with a Covid-19 twist.

Earlier in the pandemic she painted the outstretched hands in Michelangelo’s The Creation Of Adam wearing surgical gloves, entitled The Separation of Adam. That raised €520 for the children’s ambulance service Bumbleance.

She also created the Girl With A Surgical Mask in a nod to Johannes Vermeer’s Girl With A Pearl Earring. That raised €400 for the Feed the Heroes charity, which delivered food to hospital and emergency workers during the height of the pandemic.

Ms Slevin said she has learned a lot about the palliative care offered to children at LauraLynn during her course, including art therapy, and she wants to support its work.

“They’re such an important charity and the work they do for these families is amazing, so I really want to put this one out there for them,” she said.

Cathy White, a community fundraising executive at LauraLynn, said art plays an important role in the hospice’s mission to help create memories for families.

“One of the things we always say is that we can’t add days into a child’s life but we can make those days mean more, and we can help families create memories,” she said.

“Art is so important and it really gives our children, especially those who might be non-verbal, the chance to communicate.”

An online auction for the Corona Lisa will be run on the website of auctioneer Herman & Wilkinson from 10am on January 31st. – PA