Being Human In Lockdown 2020

Online Exhibition Part 1

Exhibition Background And General Information

I put out a call for people to submit their selfies with a paragraph about their experience of lockdown or Covid-19 and have been creating pieces of mixed media and digital art (with utmost sensitivity, ensuring people’s voices feel heard, without exposing them personally, faces will not be recognisable in the pieces). It has been and continues to be a vulnerable and anxious time for so many and universal to us across the world. This one moment touches the hearts of us humans (animals, the earth and all that is life) across the planet alike. It is the only time in my lifetime where I have really witnessed deep shared humanity and have been astounded by the love shown.

The Exhibition is hosted here online as submissions include people from across the world and of course for public safety during Covid-19 pandemic.


1st September 2020

User 326726150 · Being Human In Lockdown 2020 SA©️09

The following are digital (including digitally uploaded mixed media) artworks created from a selected 45 submissions. I chose these particular submissions as they cover as broadly as possible the experiences to create as wide a perspective as possible. All images have been manipulated to protect people’s identities unless permission has been given otherwise. Each piece has been pre-approved by the participants.

Below each image you will find the quote which gave rise to it’s creation.

These pieces were selected to capture the felt sense of our human experience during lockdown as the we respond to the SARS-COV-2 virus.

UPDATE 9th September 2020:

I have decided to release a Part 2 to this exhibition. The response has been great and I have received some requests to consider releasing further pieces. I have given it much thought and have decided that this is possible. The date of the second release will be published soon.

Thank you so much for your engagement, most of the gratitude goes to the participants who shared their vulnerability and experiences. Without their stories the exhibition would not have happened. I feel humbled by and grateful for their trust at this time.

“It has been overwhelming and scary working throughout the pandemic, the fear of having the lives of others in your hands has been extremely real. Knowing that if you do the wrong thing you could very well kill the people you are trusted to keep safe. It has been a tiring, confusing scary time.”
“Been stressful, scary, but also I’m grateful. Lost weight. Feeling abandoned as a disabled person and was asked if I’d accept a Do Not Resuscitate on my medical records, well that felt like the Government and NHS was digging my grave. I have grown veg though and stared my diamond art which I do love and I’ve spent alot time with the dog. Schooling has stressed me a lot and I’m also worried how my child’s future will be. Worried about people with cancer, MS, COPD, stroke and also all my own health.
Been a prisoner but finally been going out now once a week with mask on.”
Here where the oranges grow we are worried where our next feed is coming from. My husband is not allowed to work because of restrictions. I don’t know what is worse this illness or not having any food.
The queues are so long. We did not understand what it meant when they first said this Covid sickness was coming. Be safe they said, protect yourself but it is very hard to stay apart far, it is always crowded. No space. We didn’t know it would be like this, I don’t know what we thought but this is not good. We need to work. I pray everyday and hope it will all get better again.”
“First came the fires, then
the virus, then speaking out about police brutality, injustice and death for us black people.

Death that’s all I hear and all I fear. All wrong, gone too far and needs to stop, all of it. This is a clearing I think. I feel scared today. We need to care more.”
“I am on my own, I miss my family and friends. I am terrified because my grandparents and my uncle died. I was hearing stories of families without food and not allowed to leave their apartments, the government offered them rice but it wasn’t reaching everyone. I left Wuhan a long long time ago but my family live there now. Only my mum and sister are there. My father died seven years ago, he can’t protect them. I can’t travel to see them because I live and work in Spain and I am so worried. The numbers are going up and then down again here, I don’t know what the numbers really are. I am not allowed to fly home but even if I did I am not allowed in to the Provence. I have friends here who are very sick and I feel so alone the lockdown keeps us from connecting like we always have in hard times. I phone them. I have no control. My helpful neighbour buys my food and leaves it at the door. I don’t have symptoms and feel very well. The Spanish government are strict still. But they have eased some rules so I spent time with my friends here but like I say they are now sick and now I’m scared again and having to isolate.
I sit on my terrace and watch the stars at night just to remember that we are so small in the universe. I’m not religious but I wish I was.”
“Protecting my family has been so important. I worry for my children. Now and in the future, what if I’m not here to protect them. I see hope too, hope for a better world. The earth needs us and we need to look after it better. I’m scared though, scared. We can’t see it [Covid] but it’s there and we are in the dark. I’ve always been afraid of the dark, of the monsters that creep in the dark and now I’m scared on behalf of my children too. I choose hope however.”
“Physical scars represent emotional pain which can’t be translated into words nor tolerated by mind. It is the acumulation of everything that I cant say. The cancer left a scar but it is just a visible scar. The isolation from Covid has nothing on the isolation when you cant translate how you feel….”
“It’s taken the lid off, exposed the vulnerability underneath. Exposed the system, all of it. The system is a virus infecting us all. Covid-19 exposes all the problems. Let’s fix it, let’s all heal together. One human race, no divide. This virus doesn’t care about that, doesn’t care who you think you are. This is a time for change!”
“I’m a ER doctor, this thing never leaves you but it’s important to find balance so I jog outside in nature just to let emotions keep moving. It would not be useful to become overcome with anxiety. We don’t know enough yet. I have been working the whole time but this isn’t bad, I’m helping people. I’m tired but I feel useful. This is what I was trained for.”
Every year I go to the large pride celebration, it’s so imperative to go now, too many people are being killed or brutally beaten for who they are and/ or who they love. I’m afraid often, however when I travel to pride I feel I’m with people who love me and wholly embrace me. I’m not so afraid there and have feelings of belonging. Lockdown has meant that all prides spanning the world were cancelled. I’ve never felt so alone and I know there are so many others similar. There are phone lines I can call but it’s not the same, I don’t know if they can genuinely help. Life feels empty, I feel lost. My mental health is suffering. I have anxiety and I fear going out for food in case I am attacked, my neighbourhood isn’t the place to be. I’ve never felt so alone. I don’t know many people I keep myself to myself. I’m afraid to be myself so now I’m cut off, isolated. I’ve been talking online, it is not the same. We need the people we feel most comfortable with. Covid has not just taken my normality it has robbed me of my identity. Me and many others. I hope it has gone next year so I can attend the large pride. I don’t want anyone to hurt though not from this viral infection nor from feeling so lonely. We should have a space to belong. I don’t feel the big human connection people talk of. We are not in this together until I and people like me can feel safe to belong and contribute. It is hard enough without this. I’m afraid of people taking their lives because of this, the isolation and that thought is heartbreaking. Support your community better that’s how I feel, we are all made up different. I’m black, trans and bi and I feel and experience that no-one sees me positively. I’m human. I am always helping where I can. Not just now though. Covid is dreadful on so many levels.”
“Healing from Covid-19 has felt long, painful and exhausting. I had it mildly but if that was mild I dread to think what a serious case would be like. My mental health has suffered too and I have felt adrift and forgotten by the mental health team. All of my regular coping strategies are not available and services have been closed which has made me stressed and upset.
On my birthday, kind weather encouraged me to enjoy a local beach. Throughout the lockdown, getting outside or listening to music have been my two enduring comforts and have given me peace.”
“I’ve lived through war fighting for freedom but at least we knew who the enemy was. This is elusive and silent taking out older and more vulnerable people without warning. More treacherous than any general I’ve known of. For an older man it is a horrid beast, unable to see family and living in fear of an invisible enemy. I’ve lost so many friends already. Clearing the streets in its wake as if a heavy blanket of snow has fallen, just silence. My city, my city, my people. I cry. It’s like a dream.”
“This thing it blew up my life. I lost my dad, I lost my job, I lost friends. New York used to be my happy place, I’m not from here I’m from Germany in Europe but this is my place. It’s different now, how can it ever be the same again? I feel spilled out on the floor and no-one is there. All shut away in our apartments, can’t meet. I’m scared to eat, to shop for food. My heart breaks all day and night for my dad and my friends, I don’t care about my job. I used to think it was important but it isn’t, people are.”
“Injustice, climate out of control, I need to speak up and out and make a difference for generations to come. Just me, I’m not enough but I see my people, people standing up speaking. I know there are risks with this virus but the way I see it we are at risk anyway. Stand tall.”
“Lost and broken. Filled with both happiness and grief.”
“Start of lock down had planned a lot, tidying up and maybe re-decorating a room or two. In reality though lockdown life is crap. Kids at home not doing school work, not able to tidy anything up never mind re-decorating. Putting on weight just because alcohol was the only friend. Life is crap and no idea when it can get better”
“I haven’t seen my grandkids, that is what hurts the most. It said on the news I might see them by September but I don’t know. If I do then I will make pumpkins with them and enjoy Halloween. It is so lonely without them, I miss my son too he is a hospital porter so I’m so proud of him still supporting people. He has had to live separately from all of us too. All these families split up. It’s been quite a dark time not knowing if it will ever be normal again. What if they don’t find a vaccine? Will I get Christmas with my family?”
“At first I had a fear of the unknown then I decided it was good as I needed a rest from people and life. After about five weeks I felt like I needed a hug. Just a hug. Finally managed to get one and it was, like, amazing.
I miss contact with friends and family.
Now lockdown is easing I’m feeling very anxious again and like scared to go to shops, even going to pick up my son up from work has suddenly become very, very scary.
Miss all my friends and different groups I go to and church which I had just started going to. I didnt think I would miss it but I do.”
“I’ve not had to heal from covid-19 specifically, but the lockdown has been a time of self discovery and healing in other ways – mentally and spiritually. I’ve variously felt drained, exhausted, anxious and stressed. Then on the flip side have felt contented, comfortable, comforted and at peace.
My selfie was consciously taken in my greenhouse – my plants have been a real solace for me in so many ways.”
“Lockdown has been a series of extreme highs and lows. Being used to living alone, I thought it would be easy and looked forward to having some down time to garden and play with the dog. However, as lockdown raged forward I was panicked with thoughts of financial and health insecurity. Having reached an emotional rock bottom I see the rainbow now and think the only way is up. The saying, what “will be, will be” and “there is sadly always someone worse off” are now my mantras.”
“This year is a stain on time. I have to think of hope and faith. So many friends gone, the gods are teaching us. Don’t be greedy, appreciate what you have, appreciate it more. Be grateful and care for others, stop hurting one another. I pray we get through this soon.”
“It was hard trying to balance needs including mine. Worrying about my family and my own wellbeing. It got overwhelming and I struggled but I kept busy. Maybe too busy but that is how I cope. Now I need to rest. Things have changed. My garden and my home are a refuge”
“I’ve found lockdown stressful at times. Tears a few times, managed to stay positive speaking to family/friends and pottering around the home/garden and relaxing in hot tub while furloughed”
“Alone, sad, worried. Felt I was annoying people all the time and didn’t want to get in anyone’s way. I felt purposeless.
To help others you had to stay at home and do nothing, purposefully, but this isn’t my normal. I felt like a bird out of it’s nest.
I trust that the earth and universe has its own answer to this virus.
The positives to come out of this are that my house got cleaned, I appreciate things more now too. I always believe that if you come through something you come through stronger.”
“Wisdom shows us there needs to be balance. Our ancestors told us to respect our Earth and we have not, we have angered her. Now, she is telling us to fix our ways! She is shaking it all up with viruses, fires, extreme weather, all of it unrest. Our animals, mammals, insects, reptiles and arachnids are hurting,
we forget, detached from our biology, but this includes us.
This is the sound of alarm. The year of change. Oceans, skies, bodies now is the time to fix what we have broken then there will be peace.
Earth is creating space.
She needs space.”
“Well my lockdown started when I was abroad, I’ve never known anything like it brought back on a charter flight early, masks, gloves and alcohol gel. As for the rest it was sometimes boring. It felt exciting to get a phone call. I have read lots of books and my veg is growing, I’ve never grown them for years”
“Lockdown has been a mixed bag. Stayed with a friend for ten weeks, had a very quiet birthday celebration and decorated my friends house to relieve the boredom. Now I’m back at home I am finding my anxiety levels are rising. My mental health and emotions are all over the place. I am used to being on my own but I am really missing social interaction.”
“Everything has been pretty flat. All we seem to do is play games in the apartment, the three of us. I am a fashion student and live with friends. I have felt trapped, they say we can go out now but where I live here in Italy it was terrible. At first all the support and cheering each other on from our buildings but soon just flat. Not sure which emotion, somber. I don’t feel at ease to go out, I don’t think it is away. I had a cough and a fever so I stayed in my room and Gretchen brought me food but I don’t know if it was the virus. It never got bad but so many were so sick and so many of the older generation are gone. I feel in shock and trapped, my inner manhood turning on itself because I feel helpless really. I didn’t help anyone.”
“Lockdown for me has been a roller coaster of emotions. An experience that, I hope, will be once in a lifetime. Alongside the worry about everyone I love and care about staying safe and well, I have experienced the immense power of care and compassion. I have experienced people being at their very best, going well beyond what should be expected of them. I hope this pandemic has taught us all how to think and care more about each other, I wish this to be the legacy of my lockdown experience.”
“All I have is the moon and faith. I have to believe that this moment will make us stop and reflect on our tendencies. I am afraid for my family, my boys and my wife. May all be safe.”
“Lockdown has been a journey for sure, I found it very stressful at the beginning. Everything was cancelled. I became scared of people being in the same airspace as me, even outside. This invisible threat with all the misinformation floating around it raises the anxiety ten fold.
Cabin fever! It took a few weeks to find its grip on me but once it did I was suddenly transported to a padded room in my head! Solice quickly came by taking myself into the middle of nowhere on my bike, crying and screaming where no one could hear. After that I found peace with the new normal and now enjoy nurturing my garden, growing fruits vegetables and flowers.
I learned to make different homemade recipes, and also that my bumpy life has taught me many valuable coping strategies. I have found that focusing on yourself and what makes you happy allows you to find the inner peace you have always craved.”
“Mostly I’ve had a very easy time of lockdown. None of my family have suffered from the disease. I’ve been able to carry on my creative work and I live with enough open space around me not to feel trapped.
I’ve learned a lot about humanity during this time.”
“Strength, beauty and love found and embraced in a chaotic and tragic time. Its time to change and make a difference…. I start with myself.”
“I’m just a boy, I was looking for a wife. Now I need to wait. I feel sometimes like I’m underwater and everything is far away, it keeps me from thinking. Thinking is no good we need to be patient and take good care of ourselves and each other. I offer the world a flower and hope that it will be all better soon.”
“During Covid I have tried to stay busy, get fresh air and exercise at my allotment. I’ve tried to keep regular connection with and catch up with people, mainly family and groups I’m involved in. I’ve felt fine most of the time but I’ve had the occasional emotional wobble when I’ve missed being with people.”
The news is spreading fast
This surely isn’t real…
It won’t last.
I continue as normal with daily life,
I can’t get caught up in the hype
As time passes there’s no escape from knowing.
The 2020 pandemic is ever growing.
It’s okay, I don’t mind staying home….
100 days later, I’m free to roam.
Still anxious and uncertain of what what lies ahead.
One thing I am sure…
This unearthly virus must meet its end.”
(Poem written by the participant)
“My name is Kiera. I used to play with friends but now it’s just me so I imagine I’m an elf princess. It’s fun. Sometimes I pick fruit with my mimi, she likes making jam so I’m learning how to do that too. Its grown up, better than school but I do miss my friends.”
“All of outside life shut down but major priorities still had to happen for me and my family, lockdown made it hard but we still managed it all”
“We have been worried for coronavirus but at the same time happy to have family time and also sad because we can’t see our friends.”
Lockdown made me feel more myself. I grew more confidence and saw the different types of people much more clearly. This allowed me to gravitate towards truly spiritual people and naturally this has truly enriched my whole world. I am not fooled anymore by spiritual labels. My name is after the Irish nature goddess who was half fairy, half human, the gatekeeper between the two worlds. The famous Irish myth cycle of the Tuatha De Danann. My surname is interesting too it means ‘daughter of the strong ones’”
“It has been a time to stop and reflect, take stock, and consolidate. I’m taking part in virtual exhibitions in Dumfries and Galloway, and am looking forward to new opportunities in the future.” ~ Artist Maureen Edgar
“I don’t like this very much but the Earth is healing, the birds are coming more. Here in the US it isn’t good. I have the hummingbirds though, they visit more often than before because it is so quiet. I live in the suburbs, I’m certain it feels different in the cities. Here we have space and lots of green, I wouldn’t like to be in the city just now. I feel scared and worried but it has not touched me or my close community yet, I hope it stays that way. I don’t understand why it got so bad, why didn’t they shut the airports? A lot of it is confusing then we don’t help each other arguing about rights not to wear a mask. Just wear one and protect others I say, this virus is bigger than my individual rights, the constitution says we have a lot of rights but we don’t act on them for social manners.
I’ve seen online posts of the earth being cleaner and the animals finding more space and I think this is good. Maybe this lockdown will help the planet. This is a good thing so I try think about that instead of feeling anxious and scared. It’s hard not seeing anyone very often, gets a bit lonely.”
It has been a time to reconnect inside deeply and spiritually, to come home to myself.
“My Lockdown. All we have to do is stay at home. No pressure to go anywhere, do anything, follow the crowd. It’s like going back to childhood when life seemed simpler and I have to be thankful. Thankful that I’m still going out to work, retaining a sense of normality. Thankful for the office banter, and to have a job which still needs to be done. Thankful for technology to keep in touch with family and friends. And thankful for a loving and caring partner who has been there by my side. I fee protected.”

The spirit of nature in spring, warm, comforting and remaining fresh no matter what.
“Once some of the restrictions lifted I knew that if I kept distance I could travel nearby and appreciate my home more. I’ve never really looked, always looking elsewhere beyond my own home. I needed to get back out on my bike and feel free after feeling locked up. I got so stiff and sore inside. I hardly saw a soul and I noticed things I never had before, you know, like light and shadow. I’ve taken up photography. Don’t know if I’m good or not but it helps me to appreciate the things I see more.”