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Photography project puts lockdown thoughts in the picture


A former Visiting Lecturer at the University of Wolverhampton has drawn on a photography student’s experience of lockdown in a new project that unveils snapshots of local life during the pandemic.

Jaskirt Boora spent a year working in the University’s School of Art as a photography lecturer.

An award winning photographer whose work focuses on a socially engaged practice using portraiture and documentary photography, Jaskirt’s work has been exhibited across the country, including Wembley Stadium and Manchester’s People Museum, as well as being published in The Sunday Times.

She has won numerous awards including the Photo Imaging Council Award and Ideas Tap Magnum Sports Award.

Her most recent project, ‘Birmingham Lockdown Stories’, was commissioned by GRAIN Projects, Birmingham City Council and Arts Council England, and features a series of portraits and conversations that took place across Birmingham between July and September this year covering local people’s experience of lockdown.

Jaskirt featured University of Wolverhampton graduate, Aabidah Shah, in the new project. The First Class Honours degree Photography 2020 graduate has overcome personal and professional challenges to achieve her ambition of becoming a photographer and an artist.

She has also been successful in her application to receive £10,000 funding from the Artists Benevolent Fund to help further develop her practice and professional progression in partnership with the University’s School of Art.

During lockdown, Aabidah moved back home to Sheldon, Birmingham. She said: “I had forgotten about all the little quirks of living under one roof with my family. Such as when no-one replaces the toilet roll or being told by my siblings to quieten down when I was working. It was a big readjustment after years of living on my own in University accommodation in Wolverhampton.

"When University closed completely I felt lost until I saw a video on TikTok of someone using FaceTime to take photos and that completely changed the work I was doing, which was previously reliant on the studio. I started doing calls with people across the world, and this new way of working opened up so many opportunities for me."

Jaskirt said: “During lockdown I was lucky enough to experience a strong sense of community and good neighbourliness. During this time I made new friends and acquaintances with people on my street I hadn’t talked to in the 6 years I’d lived here. Growing up in a corner shop I had always known my neighbours and community, and lockdown meant I finally built that same sense of belonging.

“When I approached this work to create lockdown stories, I wanted to extend the feeling of good will and togetherness I had experienced to others that might not have been so fortunate and had perhaps endured minimal contact with others. 

“Through a network of family, friends, colleagues and organisations I began engaging with people across the city about their life in lockdown and recording a dialogue of how the pandemic had affected them. Each participant then chose the location that best encapsulated their lockdown experience and we worked on producing a set of collaborative portraits.

“During this project dialogue with the participants became really important and I recorded their words and conversations. The final work featured here includes the text collected. I am currently working on a book that features the images and artwork from the participants too.”

GRAIN delivers activities in collaboration with national and international partners to support and grow photography opportunities in order to support artists and develop opportunities for audiences and participants.

Anyone interested in studying for a degree in Photography at the University should register for one of our Virtual Open Days.

Photograph of Jaskirt (top) taken by Amelia Horton.



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