An exhibition by Russell Boyce documenting the use of Wanstead Park during the pandemic is on show at the Temple. The photos are accompanied by snippets of overheard conversations
During the lockdown of February 2021, many had taken to daily exercise outdoors, which was permitted under the rules. Like me, most of us had slipped into a routine: same place, same time and often the same conversation.
Just about every day I would walk around Wanstead Park with my wife Verity. On one such walk, I noticed as people passed each other there was a tendency to give one another a wide ‘socially distanced’ berth and carry on with their conversation. I would often catch a snippet of those conversations out of context. I wondered what snippet others would hear from us. We were living in strange times, so I decided to capture it.
When I explained my new documentary project to my family – which was to stop people, tell them I had overheard their conversation and ask to take their photo and add it to the caption – their response was: “You’re mad, and no-one will agree to that!”
Maybe people were attracted to a diversion from their routine or maybe they took pity on this madman with a camera, but everyone I asked said “yes”. So, a big thank you to each and every one of you.
Fast forward two years from the government’s 22 February 2021 announcement of the ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown, and so many of our priorities then are now a fading memory. The extra care of vulnerable loved ones, daily death tolls, talk of vaccines and anti-vaxxers, social distancing, numbers limited at weddings and funerals, toilet roll shortages, binge watching and no travel to name a few. But something that will never fade is the loss felt for loved ones who died during the pandemic. And so I hope these pictures and snippets of conversations serve as a reminder of where we all were, and just how far we’ve thankfully come.
Overheard in Lockdown – which is supported by The Stow Brothers, Epping Forest and the City of London – is on show outside the Temple until 26 March.