Picturing a pandemic: Anniversary of Lockdown

On the first anniversary of lockdown, curator Rebecca looks back at some of her favourite photos which have been submitted to Oldham’s Lockdown Museum in the last year.

When we launched Oldham’s Lockdown Museum we had no idea if it was an idea that would be useful to anyone, but we wanted to try to capture a digital time capsule of ordinary life in our town at an extraordinary time. We hoped it would be a way for us all to connect with each other and also a means of recording the enormous changes to our lives which would be a useful historical resource for future generations. There are dozens of photos I would like to share again, but here are four of my favourites for starters…

"three children, aged around 4, 2 and a few weeks old"
Amaara and her sisters

This photo is one of the first we were sent when we launched Oldham’s Lockdown Museum in June. Baby Amaara was born during the first lockdown and she is pictured here with her sisters on her first Eid. I massively relate to this photo as I am the mum of three kids who are older but have similar age gaps. When I think back to when my youngest was that age I think about all the social contact we had – we made new friends at baby groups and I really benefitted from the support of extended family to help with the new baby and his older siblings. I don’t know baby Amaara (who must be nearly one now actually, so I should probably stop calling “baby” Amaara) and her family but I feel sad for the all the hugs she has missed from relatives and friends. I hope her second year brings many more cuddles for her from many more people.

Jason in his lounge using stretching elastics to exercise.
Jason from Oldham Community Leisure

Jason is one of the staff employed by Oldham Community Leisure. The staff at the leisure centres have been doing such amazing work through all this – people who have been trained as lifeguards and fitness coaches have taken on new challenges every week which don’t relate to their usual jobs at all. Leisure centres in the borough have become foodbanks and testing centres, and staff have moved many of their classes online to combat loneliness and lockdown lethargy. To me this photo is a great reminder that for every headline about people breaking lockdown rules there are thousands of people going above and beyond, every day, in our area alone.

"toddler in large space on a hill, running, their back is to the camera"
Claire’s toddler roaming free on Tandle Hills

We’ve shared this photo quite a lot as to me the tiny human in a big space feels really symbolic for 2020.  

Young kids don’t know anything else, and a one or two year old has no clue that things are different from usual. They can crack on with living in the moment while enormous changes happen around them.

Lego Star Wars Millennium Falcon with box on table.
Kashif’s Millenium Falcon

Kashif’s caption for this photo was “When I turned 50 two years ago, there were certain things i wanted to do and never got round to! One of the things I always loved was Star Wars and one of the challenges I set myself when the Millennium Falcon set first came out 20 years ago was to build it, which incidentally is the same as my son and is at university! After 2 years of it being unopened I spent 10 blissful hrs building it and it now sits just underneath the TV -may the force be with you all during this Lockdown !”

We have had so many submissions relating to things that people have finally found time to do or have decided to try as they had hours to fill. Obviously there have been points during the year when it’s felt pretty weird to be employed by an organisation which has a prime goal of showcasing creativity for the public, when the public haven’t been able to physically come into the building for most of the year. It’s been great for me personally to be continually reminded that the creativity hasn’t stopped, and that actually the arts and making have been a thing which people have valued more than ever.

Oldham’s Lockdown Museum will continue to collect your words and images for as long as it seems relevant. You can see other contributions and upload your digital donations here.