Warwickshire in lockdown - unique record heads for exhibition

Monday 8th of June 2020 09:28 AM

A community photography project which has recorded life in a Warwickshire town through the Coronavirus crisis could be set for an exhibition in the county.

Jamie Gray, a professional freelance photographer, decided to record life in Rugby throughout lockdown after finding his work diary decimated by the crisis.

Gray, who has been a freelance photographer for eight years after starting his career in regional media, has spent more than a month recording local businesses and members of the community to capture how the town has pulled together in the face of the pandemic.

The work – entitled My Town in Lockdown – is now set to appear in print and plans are being explored to exhibit a selection of the 100-plus photographs in the town’s art gallery and museum once lockdown has ended.

“At the start of lockdown, I saw my work diary empty pretty quickly as so many of my commercial bookings were cancelled because of the impact the pandemic was having on my clients and the economy in general,” said Gray.

“I am a photographer, so the choice was either to sit at home and take pictures of my living room or make better use of my time in something that people will hopefully find interesting and will reflect very positively on my home town and its people.

As I hold a press card, I was classed as a key worker and that allowed me out and about to record the pandemic. I have done 15 threshold portraits of businesses or local people on their doorstep as well as a range of other photographs which hopefully just shine a light on good things in the community.

“I’m not surprised to see the level of kindness and support which I have witnessed in my community. It’s always been there, the pandemic has been a chance for that kindness to be seen.”

Gray has photographed the Clap for Carers at Rugby St Cross and was also allowed access to the hospital and also features local firms in the NHS supply chain.

He has received some funding from Rugby Borough Council, and has already opened talks with Rugby Art Gallery and Museum about the photographs being exhibited.

“Clearly the Covid-19 crisis is unprecedented and has meant heartbreak for hundreds of thousands of people, but I think it has also allowed people to get more in touch with their local areas – be that just getting to know their neighbours better or using local retailers and suppliers.

“This project reflects that sense of spirit in what, hopefully, is a time that will not be seen again.”

Councillor Izzi Seccombe, Leader of Warwickshire County Council, said: “We applaud Jamie for this project. Not only has he – like so many self-employed people across the county – shown great ingenuity at such a difficult time but also his work will be a valuable record of what has been such a monumental time in our history.”

A selection of Jamie’s shots will feature in a specially-commissioned book, which will be available at www.jamiegrayphotography.co.uk/my-town-in-lockdown-zine

Twenty percent of sales will be donated to the Friends of St Cross charity.

Caption: Photographer Jamie Gray