An interdisciplinary exhibition by postgraduate students from the School of Creative Arts

"…that was my way of doing this time justice”

Amanda Gorman, 20th January 2021

In February 2021, after nearly a year of lockdown, taught Post Graduate (PG) Students from a range of courses in the School of Creative Arts came together online in groups to produce creative outcomes which would help those in the future understand something of what has been experienced during the time of the pandemic.

These are a selection of the results:

The Artefact Forlorn During CovidFreedom on HoldCoronavirus: A Graphical Collection of MemoriesLocked DownMemorialIn - TRAPPED!Journey in TimeAs Lockdown Passes By

About the project

The Bearing Witness project was carried out over just three weeks in February 2021 and involved over 70 students from the PG Art, PG Design and PG Media programmes.

We had been living through extraordinary times; a frightening, hard and uncertain period when the lives and surroundings we were so used to that we hardly noticed them had changed in the most fundamental and unsettling ways.

As a society, we forget too easily and, although it seemed incredible to us then, in that dark period of the second year of the pandemic, it too would pass and our intense collective experiences of restriction, anxiety and loss would recede, fade and become incredible in their turn.

This project asked students to work in groups to produce a creative outcome which would help those in the future understand something of what had been experienced during the time of the pandemic. We wanted them to find ways to communicate how the unthinkable became the normal, how an (imperfectly) networked society helped people bear the physical isolation of lockdown, how lives were changed; how some found new purposes and a sense of community whilst others were marginalised or forced to cope in conditions that would have been unbearable before Covid.

They could produce a documentary following a single person’s story or something more abstract looking at the changes in visual or design culture that were forced by the emptying of streets and the constraints of lockdown. They could use a sophisticated, stylised form of cultural expression or they might concentrate on documenting and presenting some of the mundane detail of life under lockdown. The essence of the project brief was, be inventive, be ambitious, but above all help the future to understand something of what it was like to be here…

Dr Ian Willcock