Memories & Stories of
A Covid Community Memorial
At the height of the COVID pandemic, we became acutely aware that social restrictions were affecting people in different ways, and there were cases in which people were not feeling or experiencing the support within a community environment. As newcomers to Shetland a few months before the first lockdown in March 2020, we too found ourselves in a challenging situation and in a new environment that made us feel somewhat isolated with virtually no friends or family to turn to.
Between November 2020 and February 2021 we therefore focussed our energies in devising a project through which people in Shetland, or with a close connection to the isles, could share life experiences of the pandemic and post-lockdown period. The result of this process was the creation and launch of the participatory arts project Community Voices: Memories and Stories of Island People.
Through an open call for participation, people of all ages and from diverse backgrounds were invited to submit first-hand narratives of their lives, stories and perceptions in creative ways, through spoken word, audio recordings, visual arts and writing. Lived experiences are a powerful way of communication and Community Voices was intended to act as a platform through which people could portray the social and emotional effects brought about as a result of the pandemic. People were invited to use the following questions as a point of departure:
~ What losses and gains have you experienced and felt the most?
~ Remoteness, rurality, isolation, loneliness, community, resilience. How do any or all of these words resonate with you in light of your life experience during the pandemic period?
~ Do you have a memory that is particularly related to the pandemic period?
The resultant contributions were curated and edited by artist and Curious Pilgrims co-director Renzo Spiteri to produce a 22-minute docufilm. Through the use of words, animation and film, Community Voices unveils personal perspectives of pandemic and post-lockdown community resilience and human connection. Viewers of the docufilm can expect to discover a greater consciousness and awareness of these lived experiences that will resonate with different people in different ways.
The docufilm, which is specific to Shetland, acts as a memorial that preserves a moment in time during an exceptional event in recent history, and delivers a strong message of hope for the future and of new beginnings.
Community Voices: A COVID Community Memorial, Shetland May 2022
Between the 1st & 15th May 2022, the docufilm was screened daily on loop at the Bressay Lighthouse.
The film features contributions by Melvyn Heath, Katrina Christie Loynd, Alex Purbrick, Claire Davenport, Heather Christie, Colin Smith, Michele Simms, Yolanda Bruce.
Video editing: Renzo Spiteri