Key Workers

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Using only the materials I happened to have in Lockdown with me I set out to say a visual thank you to all 8 groups of Key Workers. I wanted to turn my suddenly free evenings, weekends and canceled work time into something positive.

I want to express my gratitude to all those people who have remained working during the last few crazy months. I also wanted to bring attention to the wide variety of jobs and services that have been keeping our society rolling, some of whom I didn’t think about until I started researching this project.

To anyone out there who is one of our Key Workers, THANK YOU!

Luckily I was stuck in Lockdown with photographer Sarah Marinangeli, photo credit and thanks to her.

Food and other necessary goods
This includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery as well as those essential to the provision and movement of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines).
Education and childcare
This includes nursery and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who must remain active during the Covid-19 response to deliver this approach.
Transport
This includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the Covid-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.
Health and social care
This includes but is not limited to doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributors of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.
Utilities, communication and financial services
This includes staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure), the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors (including sewerage), information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the Covid-19 response, as well as key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including but not limited to network operations, field engineering, call centre staff, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 critical services), postal services and delivery, payments providers and waste disposal sectors.
Key public services
This includes those working in prisons, probation, courts and tribunals staff, judiciary, religious staff, charities and workers delivering critical frontline services, those responsible for the management of the deceased, journalists and broadcasters covering coronavirus or providing public service broadcasting.
Public safety and national security
This includes police and support staff, Ministry of Defence civilians, contractor and armed forces personnel (those critical to the delivery of key defence and national security outputs and essential to the response to the Covid-19 pandemic), fire and rescue service employees (including support staff), National Crime Agency staff, those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles, including those overseas.

Local and national government
This only includes those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the Covid-19 response or delivering essential public services such as the payment of benefits, including in government agencies and arms length bodies.

More details on the making of:

Health and social care

The first thing I think when I see images of the exhausted and battered nurses and doctors is that they are real life superheros, putting their lives at risk and battling the ‘forces of evil’ corona virus on the front line. So for this image I really wanted to bring classic superhero image to life with the mask and a hero cloak. I worked out from the classic blue pleated PPE facemask, extending it until it became a full body suit of armour. The mask is made from 100% cotton linen, the cloak is an old theatre costume and the eye piece is a repurposed halloween mask.

Education and childcare

I didn’t want the creation of these masks to cause more people to have to deliver things, or cause me extra trips to the shop, so I decided only to use what I could find in my live/work space and surrounding neighbourhood. Fortunately someone had recently left this adorable yellow teddy bear in the corridor ‘swap shop’, so after a round in the washing machine I worked from there. I am so grateful to be part of a supportive and active warehouse community in Seven Sisters. I am very aware of the privilege it is to live in a building with space to make and photograph this kind of project.

Key public services

There was a lot of really worthy jobs in this category but I wanted this image to be a clear nod to one of them in particular, the people who maintained our awareness of the outside world when we were all stuck inside, journalists. I chose red for the BBC and decided to lean into the visual motif of the microphone, used to capture the voices and stories of all those out there who might otherwise remain voiceless. The mask is a beautiful piece of paper art called an Air Vase by Torafu Architects that I brought back from Japan after working with the same paper manufacturer. This project was only possible because when it comes to building materials, clothes and fabrics I am a dedicated hoarder.

Local and national government

This was one of the trickiest for me, as like many people I have often questioned our government’s approach. Then I started thinking about all the hard working civil servants rather than just the politicians, the pen pushers, excel spreadsheet fillers and other ‘suits’ who have been instrumental to moving resources around to those in need. I decided to use the ubiquitous navy blue suit and the government seal used on all official documents. The mask is constructed from an old broken plastic crate.

Food and other necessary goods

The main material used in this is a recycled content felt supplied to me by The Collective, it’s a material I just can’t get enough of. I’ve always loved using felt to produce organic natural shapes, and I wanted to reference the green growing farms and crops. For me the future is all about balancing with nature, so I allowed my science fiction obsession to come though strong. This image is also a shout out to the fleet of delivery people zooming about this country armed with paper bags and boxes of delicious takeaway.

Utilities, communication and financial services

Symmetry was important to all these images, and I constantly keep Buddhist Thangka paintings in my head. With-in this group I was particularly enthusiastic to thank those people keeping the internet going, so that the rest of us could receive important, potentially life saving, information, also to be able to pass our Lockdown time watching reruns of Star Trek (just me?). This image is a celebration of the connection brought into our lives by technology, much of my work focuses on finding this connection through meditation and other Buddhist practises, so there’s really a few things coming together into what I hope is a synergetic balance. The mask is a top I bought second hand last year (thank you Depop), the headpiece is from the drawer of wires which every person has in their house. I was careful to tape off the ends of the scart leads before spraying so I can disassemble it and plug a monitor in some time if needed. The chest piece are some old heatsinks I had left over from a lighting project I designed.

Public safety and national security

This mask is made from a yoghurt pot, two beer cans and fabric and paper scraps. I used the firefighters helmet as a form reference and decorated it with the checker pattern found on British bobbies uniforms. Lucky for me I’ve been obsessed with PPE for a couple of years now, so I already owned the neon high visability jacket. The headpiece is a pool table ball triangle which I hoped would remind people of the warning symbol.

Transport

I’ve always thought the humans working in our transport industry look fabulous, matching boiler suits, t-shirts and even backpacks. I used Londons famous Roundel for the mask, which is made from an old A4 folder. I took the shape of the headpiece from the grill of cars and trains and added a road pattern to cover that network also.

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