Undiagnosed

‘We tend to think of colonialism as an unstoppable wave, or a platoon of tanks moving smoothly across the plain, when in fact it is more like the trickle of an ever-multiplying virus through the arterial network.’  ~ Robert Moore: On Trails

 

‘What the weird and the eerie have in common is a preoccupation with the strange …. Freud’s unheimliche is about the strange within the familiar, the strangely familiar, the familiar as strange.’  ~ Mark Fisher: The Weird and the Eerie

 

 

 

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Issy, Karen, Andrew

 

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Sian

 

Sian

 

 

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Jo and Lizzi

 

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Kathy and Uwe

 

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Uwe

 

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Brenda

 

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Neighbour at No.8

 

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Becky and Owen

 

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Owen

 

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Fiona and Mark

 

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Mark

 

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Sarah, Peter, Nancy

 

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Rob, Hattie, Tilly, Amy, Lulu

 

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Darren and Charlie

 

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Darren and Charlie

 

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Bella, Flo, Nadia

 

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Kate, Isaac, Eva 

 

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Isaac

 

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Adam, Lola, Molly

 

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Jon and family

 

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Jon

 

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Mel and Si

 

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Slavka and Misa

 

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Misa

 

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Jey

 

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Paul and Zoe

 

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Robbie 

 

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Laura and Felix

 

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Elin, Andy, Leonardo (the dog) 

 

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Quincy, Meredith, Tim, Doris

 

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Ryan and Claire

 

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Olive & Julie

 

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Andy, May, Jane, Sonny

 

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Monica and Dee 

 

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Lisa, Laurie, Lee, Eddie

 

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Sam, Jonty, Stitch, Morwenna

 

Sam, Jonty, Stitch, Morwenna close

 

 

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Fata and Kate

 

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Fata

 

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Dewey

 

Dewey 1-3

 

 

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Chris and Sandra

 

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Grace, Gila, Mary, Rumble

 

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Grace

 

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Fraser, Millie, Jock, Andrea, Rosie

 

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Pete, Quinnellis, Rosamela

 

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Zoe, Daniel, James 

 

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Roo & daughters

 

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Laura & family

 

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Carrie, Daisy, Paul, Joseph, Lily & Trixie

 

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Jane & George

 

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Jane

 

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Silvio, Loredana, Nina, Mia

 

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Alfie, Sel, Claire, Nova (Panda) 

 

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Rowena, May, Imogen, Finn

 

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Constantine, Trisha, Jasper & Florence

 

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Lucy and Yasmin

 

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Clair

 

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Pete and Wendy 

 

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Gwen and Richard

 

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Della, Clive, Sandy and Teddy

 

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Zoe, Solomon, Merle, Richard 

 

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 Nadia, Mark, Sam, Fin

 

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Nick, Hannah, Matilda, Emily  

 

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Andrew, Andrea, Olive, Sonny

 

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Ros, Richard, Alex

 

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Kim and Rick

 

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Liz and Sarah 

 

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Alan and Gordon

 

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Chris and Dave

 

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Chiara, Jackie and Chester 

 

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Project Rationale

In response to the Covid-19 Pandemic I decided, like many photographers, to try to capture some of the atmosphere of these strange times. My project rationale was to photograph as many of my friends and neighbours as possible within walking distance of where I live. I was restricted by Government Guidelines around public safety; going out was itself a risk, so I limited myself to one or two photoshoots per daily walk. This required careful planning, setting up a system of appointments, maintaining a safe distance, using a long lens for the close up shots. I sent out messages with a simple request: I wanted to photograph people on their front doorsteps, informal pose (messy hair and embarrassing slippers would be fine). The response was overwhelmingly affirmative: people wanted to be a part of a collective project, to be noticed in this time of social distancing. As the project has developed it has begun to link people together, forming a collective sense of self in this socially isolating time.

The title Undiagnosed refers to the many without a diagnosis, not in quarantine yet still socially distant and for some, isolated by circumstances. More to the point, these were my friends and neighbours, whose homes were now off limits, making the situation even more disconcerting. The familiar was now very unfamiliar, and unlike other types of ‘war’ the hunkering together had to be done apart. I restricted the shots to people framed within their front doors, squeezed within their hallways, or stood in front gardens, on the threshold between inside and outside, the safe and the unsafe. I was looking for a series of expressions: serious, pensive, reflective, quizzical, defiant (pleased to see me). I sought to capture the psychological effect of the pandemic by highlighting how the normal has become the weird.

Despite the rigorous typology of this series the portraits highlight the differences: the variety of architectural details and the differing combinations of families & friends, some squeezed together, some temporarily separated, some reunited. There are university students whose terms have been cut short, children suddenly being home schooled, families united by circumstances, friends paired up for convenience, children divided between separated homes, families struggling with financial difficulties and job losses, individuals confined to their homes and reliant on home delivery, retired people for whom the pace of life has not not changed much but the safety of outdoors has radically shifted, those still working (for food banks, community allotments, pharmacies, NHS, social services) and those who appear to be enjoying the circumstances, who feel less pressure not more.

As I photographed friends & neighbours I noticed that the skies had cleared, no contrails to be seen, the air smelt fresher and at the local golf course, now empty of golfers, deer roamed the greens. Walking the streets, on my daily excursion, I noted the sound of birdsong, uncertain if this was because there was more birds, less background or my hyper-vigilance was making me more alert.

These images were taken between the period of the first Prime Minister’s ‘stay at home’ speech on 16th March 2020 and his second ‘stay at home go to work’ speech on 10th May 2020. During this period the social restrictions were tightened, the death toll increased, the nation clapped for its NHS staff whilst PPEs were in short supply, testing for the virus was scant, there was no clear end in sight and the Prime Minister went into intensive care.