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Images of lockdown

Posted onPosted on 4th Jun

An image of a deserted Newark Market is one of nine images from across the East Midlands that have been added to the Historic England Archive as part of its Picturing Lockdown Collection, now freely accessible online.

This follows a national week-long call out where the public were asked to share images that document their experience of seven days in “lockdown”, from 29th April – 5th May, which resulted in nearly 3,000 submissions from across England.

The final Collection of 200 images consists of 100 public submissions, alongside more than 50 newly-commissioned works by ten contemporary artists, including Chesterfield-based photographer Bella Milroy, and the remainder from Historic England’s photographers.

The Historic England archive holds over 12 million records of England’s historic buildings, archaeology and social history. It includes photographs, drawings, reports and publications from the 1850s to the present day, covering the whole country.

The call-out was the first time the public have been asked to capture photographs for the Archive since the Second World War. The unique responses have formed a visual record in Historic England’s Archive, the nation’s archive for records of England’s historic buildings, archaeology and social history, which will help us shape what we remember about this time.

The public call out received an overwhelming reception from across England, with 2,984 submissions received over the course of seven days.

The submissions give a fascinating insight into people’s experiences in this unprecedented time. The concept of emptiness featured strongly in submissions, especially through empty high streets, roads, public transport and skies, while the frustrations and loneliness of social distancing also came across strongly.

Alongside the public call out, ten contemporary artists from across England were also asked to produce images documenting lockdown during the seven days. Bella Milroy showed life from her perspective inside her home looking out, reflecting her immediate and local surroundings as a chronically ill disabled person. Her images capture the smallness of her home contrasting with the expansiveness of her creative framework.

Louise Brennan, director of Midlands Region at Historic England, said: “The fascinating response to our Picturing Lockdown call-out sheds light on our collective and individual experiences of lockdown and provide a snapshot into this unusual time that will be accessible for future generations to see and learn from. Our thanks go out to all who submitted their work, to our contemporary artist Bella Milroy, and to our photography team who have produced an inspiring range of images.”