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Cristian Barnett - Food photographer
(Self) photographed 13th April 2020 - 22 days into lockdown 

Like most people, I had watched the unfolding Corona crisis in China and Europe with a kind of detached horror. This was scary but surely not something that could happen here? 

On the 11th of March the W.H.O. announced a global pandemic and it was then I knew things were getting serious. Over the next few days all but one of my shoots was cancelled. Handshaking was now frowned upon and hand sanitiser became the product you wanted but couldn’t get. 

My final shoot before lockdown was on the 16th of March, I was working in a restaurant on the 31st floor of the Shard in London. It was a long and stressful day, my studio should have been sold but in the morning the buyers had pulled out due to the virus. Now I was facing an uncertain future with no work and no financial security. As darkness fell and London began to light up, it was difficult to reconcile the beautiful cityscape outside with the forboding atmosphere inside. Life was clearly about to change significantly.

The following day was especially awful, our beloved cat Frank had become seriously unwell only days earlier and now I was taking him to the vet to be put to sleep. I couldn’t believe all of this was happening at once, just a week earlier everything had seemed so normal with so much to look forward to. The next few days were a blur of stress and grief.

I’m never down for long and decided to put my energies into being useful.
Heydon didn’t have a general website so I got to work making one. We had no idea what demands the virus would place on the village and soon a group of around 20 or so volunteers were primed to help out. 

The days immediately after lockdown were genuinely surreal. Very few cars were on the road and the skies above which are usually criss-crossed with contrails were strangely clear. It is unlikely that the village has been so quiet since since the 1950s.

During the first few weeks I learned to slow down and switch off. Once I realised my life wan’t going to fall off a cliff I started to think about using my time to do something creative. I picked up a long abandoned banjo and got to work in my darkroom. 

A couple of weeks into the lockdown I realised that it would be interesting to try and document life in the village during this period so I started this project. As I write this on the 29th of April I have taken 14 portraits.

Lockdown has given me so many reasons to be thankful, I live in a beautful village, have a nice house with a garden and most importantly a wonderful person to share it with. To have space and peace seems like the greatest luxury right now.   

There is an uncertain future ahead of us, the virus will be here for some time to come. The economy has been badly damaged and this may be the enduring legacy of the virus. For now we wait until late next week to see what the government has planned. Will the first tentative steps at easing begin?

Written 29th April 2020

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