4 Sept 2021

five storeys high

This year's group show of my local photography group is literally a step up from my last one. Taking over the front of a five storey police station sounds a pretty subversive exercise but this is being done with their cooperation and the support of a great crowdfunding campaign.

I confess to ambivalent feelings about the project. Initially I was intrigued if this would ever get off the ground (OK, the puns stop here) so getting involved in the fundraising has been a real education. It's understandably seen as a community relations exercise so for me the project has become an opportunity to engage local community groups in their experiences of lockdown and unlock (last one) some of their thoughts using the photographs as a starting point. Photography has become for me more and more a means to an end, the images themselves just one point in the process.

I'm really looking forward to working with people on these and continuing to try and make some sense of our times using photographs. No pressure then.


9 Aug 2021

staycation fever

 A break in Scotland presented me with a opportunity to take some different kind of photographs. no it's not the landscape of glens and waterfalls. You can take the boy of the street but the streets are still...well you get the picture.  Here's a series of snaps from a bedroom window. There's a lockdowny (word?) feel but it was the composition of the view and a sense of time passing that struck me.

Bus-stop-1 Bus-stop-2 Bus-stop-4
Bus-stop-3 Bus-stop-5 Bus-stop-6

In the back of my mind I'm sure was the wonderful TTP project by Hayahisa Tomiyasu.


4 Jul 2021

countdown to freedom

Approaching the last weeks of the easing of lockdown in England I have to be honest I have mixed emotions. The restrictions and fear people have had to contend with for so long are now coming to an end which is great news. It also means - be definition - the end of my project which I have so enjoyed. It's been both a journey around my neighbourhood but also one where I've had to think hard about the photographs I make, the why and the how.

It's an opportunity make a final visit to the areas of Ealing I've been a regular visitor to over the last seventeen months, From Southall to Acton, Greenford to Pitshanger and all points in between. The motivation to publish the books is still to raise money for Ealing Foodbank but they've also become a great way for me to reflect on these strange times with a humble first rough draft of history  

IMG_20210603_061130 IMG_20210603_062535 IMG_20210313_074339

Documenting evidence of the effects of lockdown on our daily visual experience has inevitably brought my attention to a range of social trends of city living. The rise of diversity in advertising, in parallel to the use of wartime imagery in lockdown resistance campaigns. How paper and print are still a viable way to communicate messages even with the ubiquity and power of online influence. The evidence of people's front windows and walls to reveal the personalities of their occupiers in very public ways.

Enough. There's work to be done. 


6 Jun 2021

remember this?

I've celebrated my own return to normal this week. Back in the West End with a camera - not a phone - using film - not digital - in black & white - not..well you get the picture.

Iford film canister

It was a poignant moment. Lockdown has really made me consider my practice of street photography. I'm more conscious of the privileges I have to work in the way I do. Ethics are implicit too.

However I confess that feeling, giddiness even, of giving yourself to the moment, going with the flow, getting in the zone, is still as strong as ever.

Is it too late to change my style now? Is muscle memory too dominant? I have to ask why do I still plough this furrow, like a lounge musician still playing the standards, after all these years. My answer has been simple, a little pompous. It's because I have to. But I don't think that cuts it today. My Living Lockdown project has been about using that privilege to give back. Maybe that's the way forward, my own new normal.

 

16 May 2021

season two on catch-up

I feel a little guilty. 

It's not quite ruin porn but I do feel I'm benefiting from the ongoing restrictions on everyday life in London. I feel the way to turn that into something more altruistic is to publish a second Living Lockdown book to raise money for Ealing Foodbank in what's becoming a version of a series of unfortunate events.

Living Lockdown August 2020 - January 2021 Book from Sean McDonnell on Vimeo.


I've picked up the story from the end of my first Living Lockdown book last July and...well I'll let the author speak for himself

So on I run around Ealing, through the slow release of the first lockdown into the tiers of autumn.  

My routes are familiar but the streets are changing.  

Help yourself items on garden walls are rarer now.  

Chairs have been taken inside and the chalk games washed away in the rain.  

Gloves are out of fashion. Masks are all the rage.  

Social distancing is second nature as pavement circles peel and fade.  

Shop windows play with time. Advent calendars on sale before Halloween and late-night Christmas openings that never happened.

But change is coming.

I've followed a similar selection and editing process to last time, as you can see in my collection of albums on Flickr. I think the sense of fatigue that we speak about comes through with moments of despair and humour. Very wartime.

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