It was while I was recovering from illness last year that I finally managed to get around to sorting through a couple of suitcases, stuffed to the brim with images I’ve collected. I managed to organise them into various folders, filing them according to theme. I had put the suitcases back on top of the wardrobe, not anticipating needing to gain access to them again quite so soon.
I was so glad to have them to turn to over the first few weeks of lock down – an eclectic mix of fascinating images, gathered together over some 20/30 years – and still appealing to me, for one reason or another. It’s not surprising that a file marked ‘Exercise’ caught my eye; it was just a few weeks into lockdown, in April, at the point when we were still only allowed to leave the home once a day for a walk. The whole concept of exercise took on a much more significant meaning than usual as a result.
Images around the theme of restriction followed soon after. Though the rules changed and we were given more freedom to go outside and exercise as much as we wanted, lockdown had started to take its toll on many people. The images I posted on social media looked at restriction from different angles and extremes; from prison sentences to systemic racism, to fashion and health and helped me put into perspective how relatively manageable the government lockdown rules were.
Here are some of my favourite images – from women tanning their legs from their prison cells in a German prison (photographer unknown), to the iconic I AM A MAN photo by civil rights photographer, Ernest Withers. I have several other images to post on the theme, all depicting being restricted in one form or another …