July 30, 2020

What did the isolation of lockdown throw into sharp relief?

Judith Parrott, 60

For eighteen years I have spent much time in wilderness areas, collaborating with fascinating people in interesting places to take their photographic portraits. My photographic series always centred on the stories of people I met. Under COVID-19 lockdown, and springing from the unfamiliarity of isolation, I turned the camera on myself. I no longer “took” photographs but created fantasies that come from within, constructed to tell a story. While the photographs became an alternate reality, a temporary escape from the real world, they were also an expression of the disquiet of unsolicited isolation, and a personal expression of our shared experience. There is a Yin and Yang to remoteness and connection. While we might have previously taken for granted habitual access to friends and community, once juxtaposed both remoteness and connection become more powerful. Continuing to interact photographically with the outdoors became for me an important part of managing isolation. Simultaneously, the limitations on accessing remote wilderness made the health benefits of natural environments appear more acute. Although well documented that social connections foster wellbeing, research on the benefits of engaging with nature is still in its infancy. Can we build on this?

My Corona, 2020Digital Photography