During Cayman’s COVID-19 lockdown, people across the islands kept some visual records of the experience, capturing – in technicolour or black and white – moments that in normal times would seem surreal.

Families gathering on their porches, waving at neighbours across the road. Masked shoppers lining up six feet apart outside supermarkets. Eerily empty streets. Sandy beaches soaked in sunlight and devoid of a single human being. A tiny lizard perched atop cash left outside a home to pay a food-delivery person. A giant flashing ‘Stay at Home’ sign on a roadside.

The National Gallery this week launched ‘2020 Vision: Lockdown Experiences from the Cayman Islands’ – an online exhibit developed in collaboration with the Cayman Islands Government’s Covid-19 Commemorative Project.

According to a press release on the launch, the exhibit “seeks to explore our community’s diverse experiences of lockdown – reflecting how we, individually and collectively, are dealing with this unique moment in our history”.

The project, which was developed from a country-wide ‘Open Call’ for photographs in late 2020, features 42 photographers showing life during lockdown and as restrictions began to ease.

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Organisers said three major themes emerged through the camera’s lens: ‘Home/Family Life’, ‘Wellness/Outdoor Time’, and ‘Community’.

Home/Family Life captures the domestic environment: working from home, spending time with family, online learning, and time for reflection. Wellness/Outdoor Time illustrates the importance of connecting to the natural environment, even if limited to the then 90-minute daily allowance. Community reflects the various experiences of being outside generally, whether shopping for groceries, receiving healthcare, witnessing the bravery of frontline workers, or being assisted by essential service providers that continued to support residents during lockdown.

“While many of these lockdown events are now in the past tense in Cayman, we recognise that this state of affairs is an ongoing experience for many across the globe. Our unique position consequently allows our community to reflect on these situations while we continue our efforts in keeping our islands safe,” the statement noted.

“We are living through unprecedented times both locally and on a global scale. As our community continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic and its aftereffects, documenting our experiences is incredibly important,” the statement continued. “These personal photographs of how the pandemic has affected daily life will help us keep a record of what it was like to live through these times – both the challenges we have faced as individuals and as a community, and the resilience of our people throughout. We are grateful to all of the participating photographers for sharing their experiences via the exhibition.”

Featured photographers include: Claire Birchall, Lennon Christian, Lisa Collins, Julie Corsetti, Ayana Dacres, Mariasol Danziger, Thaís de Souza, Ryan Carlo J. Dumaguing, Al Ebanks, Sheree Ebanks, Shane Nobee Edwards, Jim Gates, Svitlana Gilyun, Cassandra Greene, Francis Guevarra, Heather Holt, Christopher Humphries, Joanna Humphries, Maggie Jackson, Paige Jordison, Whippet McCallum, Destinie McField, David McGibbon, Bridget McPartland, Heather Meinen, Tiyen Miller, Phillippa Miller, Jenna Nicholson, Alysha Pearson, Lori Peterson, Kaiman Photo (Kris), Nikole Poirier, Graziela Portela, Rebecca Raige, Lisa Reid, Elizabeth Riley, Dione Scotland Rivero, Brandee Romanica, Simone Scott, Tricia Sybersma, Davina Valaydon, Michaela Walker, and Tony Walton.

The online exhibition can be viewed at www.nationalgallery.org.ky until 31 May.

This exhibit is an ongoing project and the local community is invited to continue submitting works, with a short description and contact details, around one or more of the central themes. These will continue to be uploaded for the duration of the exhibition. Select images will also appear in the Cayman Islands Government Covid-19 Commemorative publication project.

For more information, email project coordinator Paige Jordison at [email protected].

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