Pandemic year marked with outdoor gallery celebrating community spirit
- Credit: Courtesy of No Ordinary Experience
One year on from the start of the pandemic, posters have gone up on billboards, cafes and shuttered pubs across Camden celebrating stories of community solidarity.
Isolating Together is an outdoor photography exhibition running at 18 locations including Kentish Town Library, Swiss Cottage station and The Black Cap in Camden Town until March 31.
Documentary photographer Karishma Puri was inspired to capture the images of heart warming community action after helping to set up Kentish Town's Covid Mutual Aid WhatsApp group. The crowdfunded display celebrates people from all walks of life who came together at a time of unprecedented need to look after each other.
Karishma said: "It was clear people were facing acute challenges. But I was also aware of a growing hope and community spirit, so I set out to capture this energy and resolve with my camera."
The exhibition centrepiece is a 14-metre wall at Number 19, the base of community action in Camden. Other locations celebrate how local businesses like Truffles Deli in York Rise acted as a hub where the community could feel connected.
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Portraits include Nafisa who relays the suffering of the Somali community and how she would read comments in the press about ethnic minorities being ignorant about nutrition while neighbours struggled to get by. She ended up orchestrating a support system within her community that ensured people had a steady supply of free fruit and vegetables.
Karishma added: "Nafisa’s story sums up the spirit I set out to capture in Isolating Together. People from diverse backgrounds who might have only shared a postcode in the months before lockdown were now sharing their food and their time."
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Georgina Bednar, founder of No Ordinary Experience, who met Karishma through the Mutual Aid group, helped organise the exhibition. She said: "Karishma has connected so many people over the last year and made it possible for people like me, who felt incredibly isolated, to connect. In reflecting individual stories back to the community, she is once again giving residents something to be proud of and creating the space for us all to pause and reflect on what the last year has meant."
Anna Wright, Camden Cabinet Member for Promoting Neighbourhoods and Communities called the exhibition "a joyous celebration of the ways people have drawn strength from each other – overcoming physical distance – to endure the
adversity of the Covid pandemic. These vibrant pictures of vibrant people, so different yet so united, will capture our hearts and minds and make us proud to be part of the beating heart of Camden."
Poster locations include Kentish Town Stores, Rosella in Highgate Road, Flaxon Ptootch hair salon, The Lady Hamilton pub, Aces&Eights in Tufnell Park, Camden Market and the O2 Forum.
Residents can find out more about the stories and locations and take a self-guided walking tour of the exhibition https://isolatingtogether.co.uk/