Rob Murray writes:
Six weeks ago, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and with the country on lockdown, I joined forces with psychologist and author Dr Kevin Dutton to launch Bottle Moments: a project using personalised cartoons to bring some much-needed joy — and to say ‘thank you’ — to frontline key workers.
Kev is a longstanding client of mine, with whom I have collaborated on several projects in the past (most notably illustrating some of his bestselling books, including The Good Psychopath’s Guide to Success, co-written with Andy McNab).
No 34: “Giving my little niece, born just before lockdown, a big squeeze and telling my parents’ pup that he’s such a good boy” – George, NHS comms officer
The idea for Bottle Moments is a simple one: we asked frontline key workers to contact us on social media and tell us about something that is getting them through this difficult time: a happy memory, an aspiration, or perhaps simply a special friend or relative they can’t wait to see again when this is all over. A moment they wish they could bottle and keep forever — something they think about to help them get through the tough times.
No 15: “Looking forward to cuddling this lovely fella, my Dad.” – Marion, general surgical nurse.
Key workers provide a photo or two for reference, and I bring their Bottle Moment to life as a quick cartoon, encapsulated in a bottle — which we then post on Instagram and Twitter.
The response has been incredible. Most importantly, the reaction of key workers themselves to the cartoons I’ve drawn for them has been wonderful — they have hugely appreciated the drawings and said they’ve brightened their days after a tough shift; some have even told us they’ve been moved to happy tears.
The media response has also been amazing. Amongst the highlights, Kev and I appeared on The Ian Collins Show on TalkRadio on 22nd May, and we were featured in the Daily Mirror on 28th (above).
But the biggest boost to our project came last Friday, when we were interviewed on ITV’s Good Morning Britain (viewable here). Aside from giving us a platform to explain Bottle Moments to an enormous TV audience, the segment also featured two key workers being surprised with a cartoon I’d produced for them.
No 55:“I’m a key worker in a school and my wife works in mental health. We go to a lot of horror conventions which are stopped at present, including the Walking Dead convention. We’re looking forward to being back at these events.” – Tim, school cleaner
Mental health was already a talking point before the pandemic, and lockdown has only increased people’s awareness of the need to hold onto positive memories and relationships. It’s also been very rewarding for me to see the positive impact a cartoon sketch can have on an individual.
So far I’ve drawn about 70 and counting — and we’re aiming to tackle as many as we can. Key workers can contact us with their requests via @BottleMoments on Twitter and Instagram, also using the hashtag #bottlemoments.
UPDATE: Anyone wanting to take part in the Bottle Moments ‘Draw Your Dream’ can find all the details here