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Local museum projects to document pandemic life in St Albans

Residents of Culver Road photographed during 'Clap for Carers' in summer 2020, as part of the 'Culver Road Love' project. Picture: St Albans City and District Council.

St Albans along with the rest of the country, is currently dealing with the ‘biggest challenge’ its faced in over seventy years – coronavirus. The pandemic has undoubtedly affected the lives of local people and community groups in many ways. As part of the District Council’s pledge to contemporary collecting, St Albans Museums have announced plans to work on two projects, recording events from this momentous year.

After seeing ‘the creative’ responses from community groups towards lockdown, Joanne Ling, came up with the concept of Lockdown Life. The local resident was keen to ‘find a way’ for sharing ‘some of the amazing work,’ that has occurred across the city. St Albans City and District Council are inviting local organisations to share in a creative format their experiences of the national lockdowns. Those involved so far have created films, photograph projects, limericks alongside a wide variety of artworks.  

Joanne Ling, said:

“I was inspired by events such as 'Life in a day' and 'Hold Still' in which people were given opportunities to showcase their lives on a particular day or during the pandemic and thought it would be a lovely idea if we can reach out to the local community groups in St Albans to share their experiences from the national lockdowns. I felt we needed something to look forward to and provide a chance to celebrate life after lockdown together as a St Albans community.”

The second project that local museums are supporting is Nic Madge’s Pandemic Portraits. In October 2020, the photographer began documenting how St Albans’ residents were ‘surviving the pandemic,’ through portraits of them going about their daily lives. Every photograph depicts an individual with and without a facemask. A quote from each person features underneath, where they explain ‘how the pandemic has affected them.’ The images encapsulate a point in time of St Albans whilst it is ‘under lockdown.’ Madge will continue to take pictures until September 2021. The entire range of photographs will then be added to St Albans Museums' collection.

Councillor Anthony Rowlands, Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Heritage and the Public Realm at St Albans City and District Council, added:

“The people of St Albans have reacted to the challenges of lockdown with resilience and positivity. These projects are a chance to mark both the challenges we have faced and the creative ways in which our community has come together to face them. In assembling this evidence of how we have lived through the pandemic, we are indebted to the contributors and our museum staff who are also enabling future generations to have a visual insight into our experiences”.

The format each project takes will depend upon what COVID-19 restrictions are in place. At this point, the council plans to hold online exhibitions. Museums will host pop-up events once they are permitted to reopen.

Details on how to get involved along with further information on each project, can be found by visiting: www.stalbansmuseums.org.uk/whats-on


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