Cai Jia says: "Thank you to Dr Bose, for his care, love and selflessness. He is the first subject for my series of portraits: a retired GP who volunteered to go back into service during the pandemic. His story was shared with me by his son Kiran, who nominated him for a portrait.

My work focuses often on texture and skin and in this series I have been particularly keen to depict NHS workers without their PPE in order to show who they are behind the uniforms that they wear. Here is Dr Bose on a sunny day in Roman ruins in the city.

Thank you to my husband David Shanks for the photo and to Tom Croft for beginning this project which has become really important to me during this time, both for the incredible people that I have met, and the techniques that I have been able to experiment with.

Until this year I have been more of a painter. However with new family commitments and restricted space and time during lockdown, I’m really happy to have found a way of exploring charcoal through this piece that bears a strong relationship to my usual way of markmaking with paint: by breaking charcoal up into different lengths I have been able to mimic different brush widths. The act of experimenting and creating has been really important to me personally for challenging myself and maintaining my own mental health."

Kiran Chitrapu says: "My father formally retired in 2018 but has recently reactivated his licence to offer help again during the current crisis. The family aren’t too keen for him to plough straight in, as he is 74, but he doesn’t see it that way. His name is Bose Chitrapu, known professionally as Dr Bose. He was a single handed GP in Stoke on Trent, at the same practice since 1984. Prior to that he was based in Manchester for a few years having arrived to the U.K. from India in the early seventies after his undergraduate training. In those days GPs were on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, particularly the single handed ones and I frequently remember my dad getting up in the middle of the night to visit patients. He would then run a full surgery the next day as he was the sole GP covering two and a half thousand patients. Such devotion made him popular with his patients and he had many who he treated as newborns who then grew up to have families of their own whom he also looked after. Family doctors like this are increasingly rare now as a result of structural changes to general practice. His dedication inspired my brother and me to go on to join the NHS.”

Dr Bose says: "I love it. It is a true likeness and I'm very impressed with the shadows."


  • Title: Dr Bose
  • Creator: Cai Jia Eng
  • Date Created: 2020
  • Location Created: London
  • Physical Dimensions: 28 x 21cm
  • Type: Portrait
  • Medium: Charcoal
  • Collection: Healthcare Heroes

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