Detail of artwork showing two panels

Worst of Times, Best of Times?

Kensington Central Library, London, UK

(2022)

In the collection of Kensington & Chelsea Library Service.

This permanent public project is part of my collaborative practice with artist Mike Abrahams. 

We are now ‘just living with Covid’ but it wasn’t that long ago we were told ‘Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives’. Lockdowns spanned from March 2020 to January 2021 and it was only in April last year that public buildings including libraries permanently reopened. 

So was living in lockdown the worst of times or the best of times? 

Kensington Libraries were keen to find out and invited us to capture the zeitgeist.

We asked the local community in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea to share their experiences that lockdown and emerging from lockdown had on their reading habits. More than 300 comments, insights and recommendations became the content of two large-scale paintings in Kensington Central Library and on the digital screens across all the libraries in the borough. 

A few examples:
“I always read, regardless of pandemics.”
“I used to read a lot on the bus but don’t commute any more. I miss it – reading, not the commute.”
“I’m very sorry for those who can’t read at the moment (or ever) – books are my escape. I just bought a T-shirt which says ‘A book a day keeps reality away’!”

Sifting through all the comments, we distilled the responses to: “I always read” and “I wish I’d read”. Sentiments that were as true during lockdown as they are today and will be tomorrow.

It’s not too late to contribute to the digital aspect of the project. You can add your recommendations to the ongoing digital display in the borough’s six libraries. This time it isn’t just limited to books but includes film and music. Tell the library about it by filling the form here

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Materials: paint, mdf.

Size: 135cm x 270cm each (comprised of 18 panels 45 x 45 cm).