Guest blog post written by Kevin Mathieson – Project Director – Life After Lockdown project and Artist in residence at Manorfield Primary School, Tower Hamlets
The Life After Lockdown project asks young people to create artwork to express their hopes, fears, and ideas about how life and society might change after the Coronavirus pandemic. Many students have missed out on completing their GCSE or A Level courses when their term was cut short and exams cancelled due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The project offers an opportunity to continue their studies, take part in an online exhibition, and creatively respond to an event that has global repercussions.
While a nationwide lockdown in the UK may be easing, it is now more clear than ever that the pandemic will have long-lasting consequences across every part of society. We hope that the chance to react creatively to this upheaval can have a positive impact for participants and inspire the audience to think about a positive vision for the future. The Life After Lockdown gallery can be found here.
From the gallery: Isolation
“Lockdown made me feel very disconnected from my normal life. I am used to exploring new places and constantly being outside, and this is what I wanted to portray through my imagery. The camera being set up in the same location for all fifteen photographs represents being in the same environment continually throughout lockdown, myself in each image. You will notice I am in a different part of the landscape in each image, illustrating the isolation and feeling of being trapped, even though all of this nature is sitting right in front of me ready to explore. Moreover, I also wanted to show the vulnerability of not just me but the world, the idea that the Coronavirus is invisible and we can’t see it. Making myself small compared to the rest of the composition highlights this fact and also depicts an uneasiness about unknown locations that have the possibility to make you ill.” Photography by Jack – 19 Buckinghamshire
(See slideshow on main gallery page of the Life After Lockdown website)
Themes of the pandemic
Students were asked to consider the following themes to help inspire their artwork:
The impact of the Coronavirus will not be evenly spread. The experiences of lockdown may encompass loss of income, grief, isolation and family breakdown, but this will not be the same for everyone. The perceptions and emotional impact will also be very different. Some may have endured real physical and emotional hardship, others may have encountered some boredom but also the support of a caring stable family and a strong community.
Coping with Loss:
Many young people will have experienced personal loss as an impact of this virus. Those who haven’t will have still heard tragic stories in the media, or through friends and relatives. This experience and thoughts of anticipatory grief while thinking of vulnerable family or friends, can all lead to anxiety over the future, but also to thoughts of valuing the time we do have with our loved ones while we have it.
Impact on the poorest in society:
More people living in poverty will have suffered a loss of someone, be it a family member, friend or neighbour, and more will have lost their livelihoods and had a greater part of their lifestyle change for ever. The impact on the poor in Britain will be profound. The impact on the poor internationally is forecast to be catastrophic. However, with the public and government’s acknowledgement of the heroism of key workers who have kept our country running through the crisis, alongside the accommodation for many of the UK’s homeless, there may be some positive impact for the most vulnerable in our society.
As with all major challenges, there is light and hope and there is room for some positivity. Some good will come from the enforced lockdown and there will be a growing sense of community, as was experienced in other times of significant national and global crisis. Already we are seeing cleaner air across major cities as travel by road or air is restricted. Nature if given a chance can thrive in our absence. So, this project, which is based on the sensitivity and sensibilities of youth is avowedly optimistic. It seeks to identify hopes, acknowledge fears and anxieties and give expression to them. It will encourage participants to explore and envisage a new world order.
From the gallery: The Ballerina Inside the Globe
“This artwork is representative towards everyday behaviour people may have after the pandemic. Changes consisting of being more cautious when on public transport or in crowds; some people might still wear masks due to paranoia over another virus developing. The ballerina is holding the earth in her right hand which signifies recent social media debates on the fact that pollution was massively reduced due to lack of traffic. People will be more protective of the earth- and like the ballerina, they’ll try to escape from the protective bubble while building a metal shield around it.”
Mixed media work by Magdalena – GCSE Art & Design UK
How can we engage young people?
Artists have always responded to the world around them making creative responses using available tools and materials. So how can we engage students?
Many will be looking to move forward into BTEC or A Level Art and Design courses, or pursuing opportunities in Further or Higher Education, Sixth Form College or University. This project might be helpful in supporting your transition into the next phase of learning by providing evidence of your continued creative development and to show your teachers, lecturers, carers or youth workers.
We hope that those whose voices are least heard will benefit the most from a project that might help their move into the next phase of their lives.
When the project launched in May we were in the middle of the pandemic. Normal routines were out – we talked about social distancing, washing hands frequently, staying at home and only going out to exercise or to purchase essential items.
As we begin to move out of lockdown, there is more scope for individuals to observe the ‘new normal’ along with changes in society as source material for creative responses.
The Get Involved section of the Life After Lockdown Project site offers further suggestions to get started https://lifeafterlockdownproject.com/get-involved-2/ and the teacher section gives some guidance on how you can support your students: https://lifeafterlockdownproject.com/teacher/
From the gallery: Change
“The ideas behind this piece were inspired by the current events that are taking place during lockdown. The concept shows the earth with different images in different places. America shows a black man being shot at by what should be assumed to be a police officer. The image depicts the man as clearly holding his hands up and running in fear for his life. It’s meant to represent the issues revolving around George Floyd’s murder and others in America like his. Brazil shows how hard COVID-19 is affecting their country at the moment and is meant to represent the amount of deaths the country has endured. Somalia shows a skinny man with a look of dismay on his face. This is intended to represent how Somalia is the poorest country in Africa and how much the virus must be affecting them. Finally, the Middle East is meant to depict the troubles currently ongoing in places such as Yemen. While the rest of us are concerned with our own health and issues we often fail to remember those around us. When life gets back to normal and we are okay, these people will not be. This piece of artwork was intended to bring light to how other countries have not only been affected by the current pandemic but how they continue to struggle even when the rest of the world has a sense of normality.
Change is coming. “
Digital work by Sinks – GCSE Art /Bedfordshire
The Future of the Life After Lockdown Project
The Life After Lockdown Project is an ongoing project and accepting submissions now. Many changes and consequences of Covid-19 are yet to come. Our intention is to keep the project running for the foreseeable future as a document for these unprecedented times. Thanks to wide-ranging interest we are now creating a section on the website so that everyone of any age and from any country can make a contribution. The Life After Lockdown Project has been created in partnership with The National Society of Education in Art and Design (NSEAD).
Teacher Information: https://lifeafterlockdownproject.com/about/ https://lifeafterlockdownproject.com/teacher/
For students: https://lifeafterlockdownproject.com/get-involved-2/
Submission criteria: https://lifeafterlockdownproject.com/submit/
Follow us on Instagram: lifeafterlockdownproject2020
Previously publsihed blogs could also inspire students to use digital technology as an enabler for our children’s imagination and creativity. Look back through the archive for inspiration, but this recent blog and a slighter older one could be great starting points:
Remember, if you need any support with our learning content you can contact the Inspire Team by emailing us on firstname.lastname@example.org or contacting the LGfL Switchboard: 020 82 555 555.