FACES OF ISOLATION
Faces of Isolation is a daily portrait project I am developing while we are in an isolation and lockdown period, in the uk and globally.
As a history graduate and artist I recognise that we are living through an unprecidented time and that we should all try and document what we can.
I am asking everyone that I can to send me a current picture of themselves and some words on their experience during the Covid 19 pandemic. I then turn them into illustrated portraits. My aim with this project is to capture as many people and experiences of this time as possible.
Submissions for this project are now closed, please contact me here or send me an email at for any enquiries.
This project was on display at the OSO Arts centre in South West London during October 2020 as part of their 'Isolation Art' Exhibition.
Jessica is from South West London. Usually would work in Party Retail but sadly the shop she works in is closed for the forseeable future. She is currently isolating with her family and dog at home.
She is learning to knit and re-playing some of her favourite video games.
Jess is from Surrey. She is a dancer and gymnastics teacher. Currently her gym is closed and she is isolating at home with her sausage dog, Marvin.
She is working out and doing yoga every day, and using this time to spend honing her cooking skills.
Picabo was travelling when the Covid 19 outbreak began, and was in Australia when she realised it was not safe or practical to continue travelling.
She is living and working on a farm near the Mornington Peninsula. Helping to look after sick and endangered animals. Which include a wallaby named Ted, playing with baby possums, and avoiding the slightly agressive female Emu!
Frankie is from london. She has been socially distancing at home with her family since the Uk Government ordered schools to close on the 20th March.
"I'm not really enjoying the styudying at home and i'm missing my friends a lot. The positives are that I get to sleep in, eat when I want without queuing and not getting the bus in the mornings. I am enjoying spending time with my family, it's nice for us all to be together. I'm planning on blitzing my bedroom and baking cakes - lots and lots of cakes!"
Adrienne is also from London and isolating with her family (Frankie is her daughter!)
"Initially it made me very anxious but now I can breathe again. I found this red hat whilst clearning out my wardrobe and decided it would be my positivty hat! A very early morning run in the park is also having a massive effect on how i'm coping. Nature at its best. Now that i've had time to think i'm planning what i'm going to do with my time. Cooking, yoga and planning for when this is all over are definatly on the to do list, but most of all appreciating everything we have, how lucky we are. I hope we will be a very different society when this is all over. The world had to stop, it had gone mad."
Ginger is a Dancer, Teacher and Waacker based in South West London.
“Trying to figure out how to move my Dance life online. It's happening, who knew it could be done?!”
“Its just three weeks ago since returning from a month travelling around Japan. The Coronavirus subject was present, though people weren't in isolation but a welcome sea of masks greeted me on a daily basis.
Its only now I feel I am actually arriving back, but arriving back in time when we are being told to stay in, with restricted times to go out. For me the first week or so was my normal way of being, as I work from home as an artists, but when it really started to dawn on me the reality is when the neighbours are also at home.
For me and my partner we are normally the only ones around, so take in parcels for people, let maintenance workers into friends’ homes and get on making work in the garden. I am a full-time practicing performance artist, so while at home I tend to make small short art performance films and upload on you tube, sometimes will play loud music in the back as I perform, other times I just like to play loud music. It was a surprise for me to find my neighbours home and working at the same times as me, but something we are all now getting used to!
I team up with a young composer in Roehampton, so made five performances in silence that he will edit and compose music for. I have also embraced some on line interaction, skype and collaboration with OSO who have set up linking artists from many practices together, this has been really positive.
However there are elements of this that I am struggling with, many are feeling as though they may police the behaviour of those around them, and this is the part of isolation I really hate, there is irony here as we could all arrange to do our shopping at the same time, stand in a queue for an hour or so with hundreds of other people, holding on to baskets, with our two meter distance free to chat, but if it’s a two meter distance (and not touching anything) in your garden this is enough to warrant policing.
I think also this is the other thing I am finding hard, people now do not want to talk with you, isolation also seems to mean segregation, it is strange how people have changed, maybe being stuck at home with kids twenty four hours, not being able to pick up their own social life or interactions, not having their own individual space or the me time, so anyone that seems to be having any kind of life is shut down, cut off.
But still I make art.
I have a small untidy garden, which I can’t go to the garden centre as its not essential, instead I have been making rabbits to display for the families that are passing and rainbow counting. At least this acts as a bit of a distraction, something new on their discovery of the local streets. There are a lot more people out and about than we realise, or that should be, I can see from the streams of people passing my window, certainly around three pm, it can be really busy.
Being in lockdown isn't just self-isolating, it is encouraging neighbour distancing, its encouraging possibly breakdown in in friendships, we are not all use to being at home all at the same time for long periods, this will affect all of us.
I woke up today feeling like shit, feeling on the edge of depression, but I never last long in those emotional places, though resisting the washing, the housework and all those domestic duties, I am distracted with art making, performance making and typing out my journal from Japan.
I hope we all survive in some way or the other with this new way of being, as the kids in the back garden jump on their garden shed singing songs, it leaves a smile on my face.
SPIKE (A.K.A. The White Rabbit)
Spike is a well known and loved performance artist based in Barnes, South West London.
For Spike's experience of isolation read below.
Amiee lives in London and is isolating with her parents and sister. She is not able to work from home as the shop she works at is None Essential so is on leave.
"I’m just taking this time to reflect on my self and I can’t wait to come out of isolation and go back to living my best life"
Simon is 21 and lives in the North Cotswolds.
"I’ve not found it easy to isolate I have got very bored super quickly been trying to find things around my flat that need doing to pass my time. I have been really quite scared at the moment with covid as I have recently had lung operations and I really don’t know how covid would affect me"
Josh lives in Preston, Lancashire. He is a graphic designer.
“Staying positive and using the time to stay fit, reflect, learn and be creative...............Wash your hands and stay the fuck home!!!”
Sunflower is an Illustrator based in spain.
“I would say I'm working on improving my skills so when this pademic finishes I can work as what I love which would be an illustrator and feelings would be that if people would take it a bit more serious it would be done sooner.”
James lives in South East London, and is working from home.
Daytime: WFH - Waiting For Hope
Evening: Alcoholism, the most prevalent disease in this pandemic."
Poppy is from South west London, lives with her mum, dad and sister and is home-schooling her A Levels in isolation.
"It’s a very crazy time and I found it quite hard to adjust to what was happening. I’m spending my time doing school work, watching Netflix and catching up on much needed sleep!"
HETTIE & JACK
Hettie & Jack are a couple from the South West of England. They are engaged and have had to postpone their wedding due to the pandmeic.
"I’m lucky enough to be able to work from home so that’s keeping me busy most of the week! Me and Jack are using this time in a positive way, spending more time working on ourselves, planning our wedding and enjoying family time. Can’t wait to get back out and travel!"
Paige was living in London shortly before the Lockdown was put in place, however relocated to cornwalla to be with her parents shortly before lockdown began. She has been furloughed by her employer.
"Isolation has given me the time to get back to the things I really enjoyed before having to start ‘being an adult’. I’ve retaught myself guitar and keyboard, started drawing again and gone on lots of very long walks around the countryside with my little woofer who’s going to be 14 in a month!!! (he is very happy that everyone is stuck in the house and keeping him entertained) I’ve also used this time to plan what I want to do when it’s over; Everyday we are one day closer to the end of quarantine and I’m very VERY excited."
Megan is from Taunton, Somerset. She moved there literally a few weeks before lockdown to start a new job in the NHS and quickly found herself to be a key worker.
"Isolation has been an opportunity,
An opportunity to:
Read a book, Meditate, Listen to podcasts,
Get lost in conversations with friends and family, cook and relax. It had given me time to work on myself and learn the power of motivating yourself.!"
Jess is from the Cotswolds and is isolating with her partner. She works for the Blue cross to is still working regularly to care for animals.
"My isolation experience is slightly different as I work for an animal welfare charity so still get to go to work. I see this as such a blessing and feel somewhat guilty but am grateful for my rota days at work. Obviously precautions have been taken to limit contact of staff and protect us. This is such a strange time to be in the world but we have to stay positive and protect each other to get through to the other side."
Emily is a dancer, orignally from wales and isoalting with her family there.
Sadly due to the pandemic her dance work in london is mostly on hold for the foreseeable future.
Drum lives and works in Somerset, he was in the process of changing to a new job role when the isolation was announced. However luckily his old poition have chosen to keep him on and furlough him.
"I am currently spending quarantine questioning what I want to go back too once this is over, filling my time with doggo walks, DIY projects and work outs. Trying to remember that doing nothing is fine."
Susan lives and works in South West London. She is a nanny so natrally is isolating away from the family in her flatshire.
"My experience of isolation has been difficult at times. Having said this I’ve been able to get to back in touch with the old me in the terms of no make up and running again. I’m using this time to develop my guitar skills and focus on self love."
Harriet is a dancer and teahcer, and would usually be practicing in and around london or travelling globally. However has found herself with her family in Oxfordshire during Isolation.
"One of my biggest interests is to reprogram our relationship to the word productivity. We are conditioned to focus on goal oriented tasks, to prioritise monetary gain and career boosting potentials. We develop guilt for spending time to form ourselves as thinking, creating and connected individuals; as people who think about our relationship to reality, our place upon this earth and our relationship to one another.
My wish for isolation is that the boundaries between 'important ways to spend time' and 'wastes of time' meld. That people notice productivity can be experienced in every task and every moment of ponder. I hope that a new pace is carried forward without slipping back to what seemed normal, important or productive prior.
I am spending my isolation in ways to explempify this wish."
Gian lives in South West London with his partner. He is currently working from home and she works for the NHS.
"Isolation experience for me isn’t that bad. I was definitely overwhelmed at first with the amount of time that I have, but when I managed to get a routine going, it definitely got better. Isolation definitely gave me a chance to write more songs and get better at playing guitar."
ALICE & RICH
Alice and Rich are from the cotswolds and are isolating together away from their families.
"we’ve been dealing with this one day at a time really. We’re lucky enough to live in an area where we can get outside and go exploring as we’re still new to this village. I really miss the social side as I’m a people person - but am managing to keep in touch with family, pals and my work team okay which is helping! As soon as restrictions are lifted, we’re going to my parents for a roast, I miss my mums cooking!!"
“I’m a Special Needs Teacher and my school had to close until further notice due to us being unable to keep the children and ourselves safe. When I’m not working, I spend a lot of my time dancing, so being in isolation has been a shock to the system. I feel positive that this is the right thing to do and am trying to remember all the silver linings that come with the world pressing pause in hectic lives.”
“I’m enjoying working from home and the fact I can organise my room and sort the house out as I have much more time than usual. However I’m really hating not seeing my mum and my family. My mum is a paramedic in A&E and I’m really scared for her. But we’re being strong.”
Mia is my niece and she is just 5 years old living through this unprecedented period in history. She is living with her parents Chris and Michelle and is obviously being home schooled right now. She has an amazing attitude and understanding of what's going on. She is very creative and when she isn't doing her schoolwork can be found painting and drawing.
TIA & TOBY
"Tia & Toby live in South Bucks. At only 7 months old Toby is blissfully unaware of what is going on in the world and is enjoying one of his favourite activities - bathtime! He's even leanred how to army crawl!
Tia is 6 years old hand has been homeschooled now since March. Passing the time making easter cakes and performing musical numbers to her baby brother!"
Ellie is 21, from SW London and had almost completed her final year of Uni before lockdown was announced.
"At first I struggled with adapting to life at home every day since I was really enjoying my final year at uni. But now i'm enjoying my time sunbathing, cooking and hosting weekly drunken pub quizzes over Zoom for my family and friends. Excited to get back to the pub though for the real thing!"
"During isolation I have found myself spending a lot of my time exploring my practice of yoga. Re learning fundamentals of it's philosophies and understanding how it's helping me to, firstly stay sane but alsonavigate this challenging period of isolation. Something that resonated with me is the practice of non attachment. Being able to let go of what no longer serves us. I hope this is a thought we can all take forward, leaving behind the patterns, habits or lifestyle choices that we may not want to let go of, but need to. When we loosen the clutch of our lives we learn to float with the ebb and flows."
Alice is a third year uni student from SW London and is currently isolating with her boyfriend.
"I’m in the countryside in York at my boyfriends house with him and his family. Spending my time writing music and being outside with his dogs"
"...Dare I say I've enjoyed myself? I think I've been living fast-paced for a while now and its given me sombre permission to slow down and remember small enjoyments; whether that be simply using a face mask or pressing flowers."
"I'm working from home which keeps me in a routine during the week. However i'm usually super busy and always out and and about so still got loads of time on my hands whilst staying home! I'm using this time to redecorate the house I've just bought and also make lots of art. Bought this mask for spray painting murals in my garden a few months ago and never got round to it, but I feel that now is the perfect time! (Also the mask may come in handy for more than just spray painting now!)"
"I've been spending most of my time in isolation singing and writing songs although I've been doing a lot of eating ha! I'm greatful for being in the fresh Irish countryside and spending time with myself."
"Isolation has made me go back inot the mindset of being back at uni, where there's not really much to do. However, this time I feel like I need to occupy myself more so have been doing home workouts, going on runs and have even taken up a new hobby; crochet. I've popped into work a couple of times because I work in a special needs school, but work from home the rest of the time."
"I've spent isolation working in Tesco, where i've realised some people are truly lovely and appreciative - but equally some people are ignorant and complete twats! When i'm not at work i've been trying to stay away from screens by doing jigsaws, baking and learning embroidery."
"isolation has been so wierd for me. Normally i'm the type to stay at home and (even thought its's bad lol) cancel plans to have a night in, but i've been craving the social activity now I can't have it. Mentally, i've been up and down, I think everyone has been; but i've enjoyed the longish break from my retail job because i'm lucky enough not to have bills. It's definitely made me more appreciative of the little things
"Even though it's very different compared to normal life, I honestly prefer this overall. I'm able to have quality time with my family and I'm spending lots of time with my dog, Buddy🥰
We do PE with Joe Wicks every week day and that help us to start the day off. I miss my friends but I can't wait to see them soon and we will be able to have so many parties!"
"Once upon a time there was a little girl called Emma. She couldn't go out to school because of the coronavirus. She missed her friends, she said to herself, I wish the coronavirus never happened!
When the coronavirus is finished, I can go to the seaside with Elise and do some painting with her, and finally have sleepover and go on out skipping ropes and school"
Harry is a key worker, working with vulnerable individuals in the mental health sector. He hopes to be able to finish his masters when life starts to return to normal.
MIA & CHRIS
"I’m making the most of the free time at hand, getting into my fitness more, getting creative again through painting and photography, just appreciating everything there there is around me.
My plans for the future are to get established in a good career which helps other make a difference and to just enjoy life and not take anything for granted.
Chris is on the front line working as an ambulance driver."
"Isolation has taught me that everything can change so fast. Be grateful and appreciate the little things. Stay home and stay safe."
PENELOPE (THE ARTIST) & JAMES (THE EVER SUPPORTIVE BOYFRIEND)
"Mostly I've been spending my time in isolation working on this project and a few others (I suppose to feel some purpose?). We are both so lucky to be safe at home, I hope when we start to come out of this strict isolation period we can reflect on this time and reevaluate what is truly important and essential in our lives."
Arthur is an MA student living in South West London. Due to flat isolation starting a few weeks prior to the initial lockdown he has been in isolation much longer than many of us. Whilst many companies and services have stopped, many Universities have continued to teach online so Arthur is still writing papers and sitting exams.
Read below for more on Arthur's experience.
"Isolation's a weird one. It's uncovered a lot of things, both personally and socially. Practically speaking, not much has changed for me. Im a masters student doing most of my work from home, and I hardly left the house anyway given my poor mental health. Over the course of the last year I've been receiving therapy to help me overcome childhood sex abuse, and in my talks with people since lockdown began I've noticed that even people who previously might've considered themselves completely mentally well have started experiencing feelings very similar to those that I had, and still have, in response to the abuses I've faced. Things like feeling a lack of autonomy or control, a sense of looming danger even when you're safe in your home, viewing others as potential threats even when you dont want to see them that way, anxiety and unstable mood, poor sleep (a lot of people are having weird dreams and nightmares these days, something I have much sympathy about), and, of course, literal and emotional isolation, to name but a few feelings people are experiencing. It's a struggle for sure.
There are also the political ramifications of what's happening. I think this crisis has uncovered a lot of flaws in the system we currently live under, and far smarted people than myself have written much about it over the last few weeks. It is my hope for the future that we, as a people, can use this moment in time to push for the things we really want for our lives. Like the ability to spend more time on ourselves and with those we love, rather than being stuck working jobs we don't care much for in order to line our landlords pockets.
I hope that the emotional, financial, and political turmoil that so many of us are going through is enough of an eye opener for more and more people to see their lives for what they really are, and to rearrange things to how they want. I wonder how many people will go back to school, or go for that cool job opportunity they'd been putting off, or join an activist group, or maybe just tell that person that they think is amazing how they feel.
We get one life, and I don't know about anyone else but I don't want to live it any other way than my own. Let's heal ourselves and each other."
"I have moved home for the lockdown period to be with my three cats, my dad and my brother. Lockdown is hard not being able to see friends and family, but I am extremely grateful to be able to spend it with my favourite four legged companions."
"I have been keeping myself busy creating art, gardening and sorting out all my little, and not so little, curios and various antiques that I have collected over many years. I work full time as an interior design adviser and cycle to work 12 miles every day, Mon to Fri, something which I am unable to do at present. However, every few days I go out for a little exercise on my bike along the River Thames to feed the ducks sweetcorn, peas and seed, I worry about them going hungry! I use this opportunity to really look at the beautiful flora and fauna that we are surrounded by, and to also say hello to people and to ask how they are, from a distance of course. I take this time to dress up in my beautiful vintage clothing, to keep my spirits up, sporting one of my pretty home-made masks."
Jonny lives in South-West London, where he is currently in lockdown with his parents. He usually works as a freelance opera director and composer but is spending his lockdown running the OSO Arts Centre's online programme as a volunteer.
"Lockdown was crushing at first, as I had to cancel a number of productions, including the premiere of an opera I've been writing for years. As it has continued, though, I've started to take the positives out of it. For me personally, it's been a great opportunity to develop creative ideas without time pressure.
In particular, it's been incredible to see how strong the performing arts community has been during this crisis. We started the OSO's online programme as a way to provide a creative outlet for members of the community, and the uptake has been staggering. Artists of all sorts, from painters to performers, are putting their brains together to create beautiful pieces. Everyone has had work cancelled, but is continuing to create art in isolation for the sheer joy and feeling of connectedness it spreads.
I've been trying to stay fit by building some of my own climbing equipment and inventing bouldering routes around the side of the house. Finally all the off-cut wood we've kept from set builds has come in handy! It's so easy to spend whole days in front of the computer (which inevitably end in marathon Netflix binges...) so it's good to have an incentive to get outside."
"I really miss school and being able to do my sports. But I am not bored, we have lots of cats and hedgehogs. And my mom gave me a hamster! They keep me company and I love them so much. I read a lot and have been sending snailmail to my penpals. Also Disney+ is my fave right now. But I do wish everything goes back to normal soon because it makes me very scared and sad... but we have to stay positive and make the best of it."