A successful curator, art consultant, tv presenter and writer, Carrie is a force to be reckoned with.
In a rare glimpse of her home life, I visited Carrie and her beautiful boys.
Like many of us, Carrie realises that she’s luckier than most in some respects, but lockdown hasn’t been easy either. She says: “I whiplash between being a bloody perfect Martha Stewart type who has made banana bread weekly and perfected a few cocktail recipes and done more arts and crafts these past 8 weeks than I've done in my whole life, to being a raging Dr. Jekyll type who wants to drink the many cocktails that Martha made and break all the art and scream into a pillow (which I have actually taught my kids to do).” The unexpected bit? “It turns out that my husband and I do lockdown together well. He and I are solid as a rock after 8 weeks together. That was never a forgone conclusion. I am aware it won't be for many couples.”
“My favourite part about lockdown is getting to wake up at 8am”, Dov laughs.
When she left her previous job in February, she never expected that her job search would look anything like it does now. “Everything happens for a reason, but we can’t always wait for that reason to come and find us. We need to take action." A naturally positive person, she has taken the situation in her stride and has been lining up interviews.
An artisanal take-away coffee addict like myself, she misses grabbing her morning flat white.
When Dov spoke to me, she said something both beautiful and profound, stretching beyond the love of caffeine, "when you go to a coffee shop... you have that human interaction.” She misses Gentlemen Baristas in Borough Market the most, not for the brew alone, but for her favourite server, a camp man with many ear piercings who always remembers her.
She speaks a truth about missing the people we interact with on a daily basis that while not part of our circle, play some important part in our lives.
My beautiful aunt, who wished to be captured with her beloved dog Tara.
Parting words from her to me: "It was lovely to see you but I hated not being able to hug you."
I spoke to Saima a few weeks after the death of George Floyd. Saima’s is a doula, with a social media platform covering also female centered issues which was a inspiring source of information to me personally during lockdown. (A doula is a professional trained in childbirth who provides emotional, physical, and educational support to a mother throughout all stages.) During lockdown, doulas were no longer allowed to provide support in hospitals, so Saima has had to provide virtual consulting. She even had to support a client giving birth in hospital through a Zoom call.
Posting content about woman’s bodies and periods in a very honest way, Saima says: “A few of my male friends have texted me saying: ‘Is that what it’s really like to be a woman?!’ It’s really interesting to them. And also, we as women don’t talk about it with each other. We’re embarrassed to talk about it. It’s been really good to have the conversations about it. I think the stress of lockdown has affected people’s cycles and their emotions, mental health and anxiety - it’s all been heightened. And now we have all the anti-racism and political movements - we seem to be using our social platforms for change. It shows what’s possible when everyone gets on board.”
Tim & Niamh.
It’s appropriate to have shot Niamh and Tim in Mental Health Week, as they are two of the greatest advocates on the subject.
The idea of their charity was formed when visiting a friend who had been sectioned and after seeing how cold and clinical the environment was, they felt they could transform it. Niamh, a curator and Tim, an artist, had the expertise and contacts needed to go into wards and transform the spaces using high quality artworks. The artists also provide workshops to those in the wards. The charity has had the likes of Anish Kapoor, Nick Knight, Anthony Gormley, Richard Wentworth and Giles Deacon participate on projects, to name a few.
All projects have stopped since lockdown. The couple pair have adapted really quickly trying to generate new funding that would still enable artists to reach people within the wards. Niamh says, referring to the patients, “There isn’t much in the way of creative and intellectual stimulation or activity, so we were really keen to continue to do that.” For the first time, video conferencing is going to be allowed in mental health units. Artists will be leading live workshops, providing patients with inspiration and connection to the outside world, which will be made open source.
Tim is a very active person so he really misses biking around London.
Niamh, who is due to give birth in two weeks with the couple’s first child, has been busy with the fundraising initiatives mentioned. “Saving the thing you’ve built over the last four years... the days go pretty quickly.” It’s a pretty strange time, but they’re both incredibly excited over the birth. Tim says “I just want the world to be a nicer place for the baby to come into.”
Manon spent her time rediscovering her passion for sewing: “It’s so fascinating – I have so much more respect for clothing from learning how to sew myself. It’s both similar and different to baking – ingredients and methods. Because I’m self employed anyway, I’m used to being home a lot. What has been amazing is having my partner home with me.”
An alarm goes off while we’re talking - “They’re growing! They’re growing!”, she excitedly exclaims while looking in her oven, waiting for her madeleines to rise.
She described how she has always preferred one to ones with friends, even before she became famous. With 30 – 40’s Instagram DM’s a day, she values more focused time with friends now more than ever.
Her inspiration for her content doesn’t come from fellow Instagram posts, but rather from her daily runs or walks. One of her bakes done over lockdown was inspired by a run she went for and saw beautiful roses, so decided she wanted to make a rose cake.
“I mean this is true joy for me….” She says, before biting into a freshly baked, perfectly formed madeleine and smiling.
Native Parisian Alexis was been separated from his friends, family and girlfriend during lockdown. He felt really positive during this time despite this and contrary to our very moody portraits.
He said: “I tried to make the best out of it by picking up the phone and catching up with family and friends, exercising and creating new things. I love to use my hands and see the transformation from raw material to an object.”
Ksenia’s lockdown experience began with her exhibiting COVID symptoms.
She was living on her own in a flat in London with family far away and contracted what we now call the “Long COVID”. It took months for her to recover.
She said: “Given the fact that I grew up in the Soviet Union and lived through its collapse and the of challenges faced by my family, I had to embrace from early days the idea that certainty is an illusion and that we never know what challenge is awaiting around the corner. This has been another test of resilience for me - I felt so much stronger and capable of dealing with this challenge thanks to my wonderful family and the amazing friends I have here in London; who were checking in on me daily, bringing me food, making me smile and keeping my spirits up. The feeling of gratitude for the incredible people in my life who are there for me no matter what has definitely been the key lesson for me.”
tom & daisy
“I don’t think I’ll ever do another Zoom call or quiz again…”
As someone who suffers from Crohn’s disease, Matt was subject to isolation for even longer due to his illness.
He said his favourite part of lockdown has been being able to reconnect with things he’s too undisciplined to make the appropriate time for-reading, practicing music, Italian and exercise on a daily basis.
He elaborates beautifully: "You can’t put anything off until later because there is no later, later is now."
When I spoke to the Vessey family in March, they admitted that the lockdown was proving tough.
“Shall I tell you a bit more about it’s really been like Jen?’ It’s been really hard. It’s a nightmare about how everything changes – it’s really disconcerting. Minny has missed out a lot on her final year of primary school and Beau was scheduled to snog a lot of Italian boys on a ski trip…” she laughed.
Talking of visiting her 91 year old father, A speaks of being very upset about not being able to hug him. Rationally, everyone can understand why they need to avoid this. “A human’s brain is a bit like an evolutionary stacking system. The information goes in at the base - the most primitive part of your brain first. Then it gets to the most rational part last – that’s just how a human works. So, by the time you are able to think about oh I can’t hug my dad because that’s the best thing to do right now, your body has already responded to the situation. Your body doesn’t know that, your body is just experiencing rejection and loss. As much as you can rationalise that, because that’s the last bit of your brain that gets the opportunity to process any experience, your body is already upset before your brain can have a chance to comfort you in rational way. In my life I’ve never been in the same room as my dad without us squidging into one another.”
When I asked the girls what they think they’ve learnt from this experience, Minny said, wiser than her years: “Things that were normal, unremarkable, you cherish a bit more. People that weren’t your close friends, that were in the background of your life, just in your classroom, I feel like I will start to talk to them more, because I realise that I miss them too, even though I didn’t really know them.”
Beau, surprised by this philosophical answer, said laughingly: “I was going to say wash your hands, but now my answer seems really dumb!”