Marking one year since the first Covid-19 lockdown began in the UK, Isolating Together is an outdoor photography exhibition portraying inspiring stories of community, action and solidarity during the pandemic. Running for 10 days, Isolating Together will be displayed at 18 locations including a selection of iconic spaces across Camden.
The entirely crowdfunded exhibition celebrates the many people from different walks of life who came together at a time of unprecedented hardship to look after one another. Karishma Puri, the artist behind the project, was inspired to capture the images after establishing Covid Mutual Aid in Kentish Town. A WhatsApp-based community group, it was set up for neighbours to support one another and overcome isolation. Karishma said: “It was clear people were facing acute challenges. But I was also aware of a growing hope and community spirit, so I set out to capture this energy and resolve with my camera.”
Isolating Together, in collaboration with Jack Arts and No Ordinary Experience, will transform places like billboards, community spaces and local shop windows into a vast outdoor gallery across Camden. Each location was carefully selected from among the most meaningful venues in the area. The centrepiece will be displayed across a 14-metre wall at Number 19, the home of community action in Camden.
Some of the stories in Isolating Together highlight the vital role that local businesses like Truffles Deli played in keeping people going. As well as providing delicious food, it also acted as a hub where people came to chat and feel like part of the local area – a thread that kept people connected to the community. Other portraits in the exhibition are more personal. Nafisa’s story tells of the suffering in the Somali community at the height of the pandemic, of how she would read comments in the press about ethnic minorities being ignorant about nutrition while neighbours struggled to get by. But, despite her own challenges, she decided to do something to help. Nafisa ended up orchestrating a support system within her community that ensured people had a steady supply of free fruit and vegetables. Karishma says, Nafisa’s story sums up the spirit I set out to capture in Isolating Together. People from diverse backgrounds who might have only shared a postcode in the months before lockdown were now sharing their food and their time with one another.
Anna Wright, Cabinet Member for Promoting Neighbourhoods and Communities, Camden Council, agreed: “The Isolating Together exhibition is a joyous celebration of Camden’s residents and the ways people have drawn strength from each other – overcoming physical distance – to endure the adversity of the Covid pandemic. These vibrant pictures of vibrant people, so different yet so united, will capture our hearts and minds and make us proud to be part of the beating heart of Camden.”
Georgina Bednar, founder of No Ordinary Experience, said: “Karishma has connected so many people over the last year, entirely off her own back. She has made it possible for people like me, who felt incredibly isolated, to connect. In reflecting individual stories back to the community, she is once again giving residents something to be proud of. She is creating the space for us all to pause and reflect on what the last year has meant. I, for one, need this and think many people across Camden do too.”
JACK ARTS commented: “Our local communities have become more important than ever before. We are delighted to be supporting Karishma’s incredibly inspiring Isolating Together project, which celebrates the heart-warming community spirit in Camden during such a difficult time. Art and culture should be for everyone and made accessible for all to enjoy. We hope that using our poster space as an outdoor gallery will bring even more positivity and unity to the Camden community.”
Residents and visitors will be able to get a sense of this unique community spirit during self-guided walking tours of the exhibition from Monday 22nd March. A map to help them is available here.
Isolating Together is exhibited at 18 locations across Camden until Wednesday 31 March 2021.