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Historic England reveals ‘Picturing Lockdown’ collection of isolation images

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Following a rare open call for photographs, Historic England has revealed 200 new images of life during the coronavirus epidemic

It is the first time the public has been asked to submit photographs for the heritage organisation’s archive since the Second World War.

Freely accessible online, the Picturing Lockdown collection features 100 public submissions alongside more than 50 newly commissioned works by 10 contemporary artists. The collection is completed by Historic England’s own photographers.

More than 3,000 submissions from across England were received following a week-long call-out asking for images that documented the nation’s experience of seven days in ‘lockdown’ from 29 April to 5 May. Damien Hewetson, who was recently featured in the AJ’s Behind the lens series, had one of his photos selected.

The call-out was the first time the public have been asked to capture photographs for the Archive since the Second World War. It aimed to create a record of a week across the nation, during this extraordinary moment in history. The responses form 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 to shape what we remember about this time.

Sunny Southend Closed for Business – Leigh-on-Sea, East of England

Sunny Southend Closed for Business – Leigh-on-Sea, East of England

Source: Terry Withers

‘I live in a tourist town, so to see the roads empty and crowds gone on a Saturday afternoon is both scary and surreal. It epitomizes the phrase ‘ghost-town’.’

Besides the invitation to the public, 10 artists from across England were also asked to produce images documenting lockdown during the seven days. Each has contributed at least five images to the final collection. The images range from evocations of specific urban landscapes offered by Chloe Dewe Mathews (South East), Scottee (East of England) and Polly Braden (Central London), to portraits of communities and individuals, and a focus on nature and space.

Claudia Kenyatta, director of regions 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 10 contemporary artists, and to our photography team, who have produced an inspiring range of images.’

See the Picturing Lockdown collection here.

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