By Bec

(in response to the ‘journey’ task)

As an experience the whole pandemic has been intense. Too huge to process. 

We’ve all been very aware since the beginning of it’s magnitude and how it will affect our lives in some marked way from now on. We’ve discussed it on social media, picked it apart during our allotted social strolls, hashed it out on doorsteps whilst dropping presents to friends experiencing (another) lockdown birthday. It still feels too huge, too foreign, too life-altering to let go of these conversations yet. 

One thing that has helped our family has been simplifying life, and slowing down. The small things have grounded us, focussing on the day to day, finding comfort in routine and indulging in tasks that eat up time in an almost meditative way. Time has never gone so fast and at the same time so slow.

At the very start of lockdown in March 2020 when life was strange, the supermarket shelves were empty and going to the shops induced panic. As many others did, we decided to get a regular veg box and started a journey that we’ve already failed at previously a handful of times. The middle class dream of getting a veg box is not all that its cracked up to be – it requires effort and commitment – and previously we’d given up on the month that brought us just radishes and parsley. 

This time, under a new regime and with the added token that we’ve become vegetarians, we found that the commitment suited our life: it took us away from the shops, gave us a new need to be inventive with our cooking, involved a little walk to go and pick it up, and it all came straight from the ground so the ritual of cleaning everything and lining it up on the draining board felt cathartic.

Almost a year on, we’re still getting the veg box and when it arrives on a Tues we sort, clean and put away the veg and ask our knowledgable pals what they think our mystery item of the week is, then we roast it (what else can you do?) and declare it tastes a bit like a potato. In these extreme times I’m incredibly grateful for my veg box and the simple tasks that take us away from what’s going on in the world.

By Lottie

(In response to the ‘journey’ task)

The first is the journey through the pandemic, more specifically mothering in the lockdown when no support is available. 
The second is my journey into becoming a mother – Although actually it could be my self portrait as it is undoubtedly the most incredible I’ve ever felt – In some ways I’m still amazed it was me! 
The last is a literal journey. Its the start of the walk we do every day come what may! 

By Amy

“One more email”

My daughter is two. 

I work part-time as a children’s occupational therapist in and SEN school. I’m shielding because I have autoimmune disease and am immunocompromised.

There is no balance. Everything happens around my dining table.

There is nothing left to give, to my family, my child and too the families and children I work for. On my days with my daughter I wrangle a two year old, with no where to go, noone to see no connection, no buffer no headspace.

I am living and breathing caring responsibilities and I am suffocating. 

I took these pictures today, on a  non work day, while I tried to reply to overdue and late work emails, while I tried to juggle yet another thing.

By Priya

In response to the portrait exercise

Twenty twenty has felt more stagnant than most years, since lockdown began there has  been a general feeling of claustrophobia that I realise is totally relative.

We have enough space, very generous if you consider past generations all piled into a room or two or the many people who are living in technically overcrowded situations and yet the one dimensional situation with the same people day in and out can start to wear on you.

This picture was an attempt to break through a creeping apathy that is really familiar right now. I want to feel more present and alive so I tried moving in different ways – something I have been exploring for a while now in creative practice.

The photograph itself isn’t that well taken and there is clutter and blur but I think it shows spontaneity and dynamic motion which I both long for and know that is still possible if only in micro ways for the time being.  

Find Priya on Instagram

Or find her birth work here:

By Alison

Our son has always sat with me when I dry my hair. When he was a baby he lay in my lap and smiled when the warm air drifted over him, after baths he would sit on the potty wrapped in a towel while I dried his hair. 

He got older and used to lie behind me wrapped around me like a cat, he’s eyes quietly watching the reflection in the mirror. 

The same mirror (usually this dirty with hand prints etc) same hairdryer, same brush. 

Now, still when he hears the hairdryer he appears at our bedroom door and plants himself next to me. I asked him last week why he likes to be near when the hairdryer is on. He said it makes him feel warm and calm and that it helps him remember stuff. 

I like that. 

I’m not sure how much longer he will sit beside me while I dry my hair so I am going to love it and hold on to it for now as life is so full on right now but I like this reflection in our dirty mirror.

By Lorenza

I took this photo on a Tuesday morning early January. Tuesday and Wednesday are the days when I’m able to put in two full (long) days’ work as my husband can take the lion-share of home schooling and child caring. We’ve worked out how to be a good tag team by now, this second lockdown of school closure. I took this photo 10 minutes before I opened my laptop and begun my working day. 

Since March the 16th 2020, when as an office we decided to all move to WFH (even before the PM made the decent decision to call for a national lockdown), I’ve been working out of our bedroom. This little bedroom of ours has turned into my own little world too. 

I like the light here. It faces West so in the morning the light is gentle, never strong. We live in a townhouse and a higher bedroom level means when I look out of the window I stare into the trees’ canopies that line our boundary between our terrace row and the neighbours.

I see the changing seasons through these trees. 

I sipped the final sips of my tea by the time I took this photo.

I breathed deeply ready to begin the day. 

I reflected that I am feeling completely exhausted by now, emotionally and physically. 

This second or third (depending how you look at it) lockdown round, I face it not only with the fear of the virus ever present – actually worse than ever – but also with grieving for my father’s death. We were collateral damage to Covid-19. 

I reflect that my heart has never felt so heavier, so lost and so sad. 

The pink clip in my hair really pops out in this photo. My daughter gave it to me, it was in her coat’s pocket, from many months ago – before the whole pandemic happened. She had found it and asked me if she could keep it. We washed it and put it in her hair clips box. Then one day she said “you can have it mamma, it’ll go with your curly hair”. 
I hardly ever notice it normally.

I spend most of my working day nowadays in front of my laptop often in back to back online meetings. The little pink clip never features on there, hidden among my curls. 
But here in this self portrait it offers a little cheery, if not slightly jarring, pink “hello”. 

After I took this self portrait I turned my laptop on and left my little bedroom-turned-world only for loo breaks and for lunch, till I clocked off for dinner. 

And while on the one hand I’m feeling I’ve had enough of this routine, on the other this now feels familiar and safe. And the thought of resuming ‘normal’ life doesn’t appeal to me anymore. 

Nothing is as it was before that March 16th, 2020. 

By Hannah

In response to the self-portrait mini-task

I wake wake up
I wake my teen
‘Morning here’s your brew’
I get ready
‘I’m leaving in 10 minutes, Do you want a lift?’
There’s a grunt
I drop off my teen at school
I go to work
I speak to school
I speak to social workers
I speak to school 
I speak to the doctors
I speak to Emerge
I speak to school
I am still at work 
I smile 
I play
I change nappies
I text my teen
I get one word answers
Here’s some numbers if you need to talk and don’t want to talk to me
I play 
I dance
I change nappies 
I go home 
I open the door
I call ‘Hi family’
Sometimes I get a reply
I make a cuppa
I take one to my teen
How was your day?
Sometimes I get a reply
I try to communicate 
I try to listen
We have dinner
We clear up
I look up demigirl 
I sit in my front room alone
The doors are closed
I look at the rubbish project 
The rubbish is still there

When I was set the task of a self portrait my first thought OMG I need help, so I talked to my children. They gave me list of things I should have in my picture that says me (as my children see me).

They also gave me massive emotional support, mothers are the ones behind the camera. The list went…cuppa tea, knitting, WI, sewing and “those damn rubbish bottles”. I couldn’t bear the thought of get the bottles back out of the cupboard after hiding them over Christmas!

So knitting and a brew it was. I took loads and got them to pick the best two. Then my selfie queen still wanted to so more so we did a photo shoot in my pjs. I love how she’s captured me. My children are almost all grown up and it was really strange/emotional/amazing to be on the other side of the advice and help.