University of Northampton: Students share lockdown life in art

By Martin Barber
BBC News, Northampton

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image copyrightClaudia Popescu
image caption"Even locked inside our homes, dispersed across the world, we are linked to each other more closely than ever before."

Life in lockdown has caused many to feel caged, with millions of people across the UK having had familiar daily routines ripped away from them.

For students studying from home it has meant a loss of the usual networks of friends, or the formal face-to-face support offered by colleges or universities.

Illustration students at the University of Northampton have shared through their art the impact of trying to study during a global pandemic.

All admit it has been hard - but they are optimistic that brighter times are finally on the way.

In the students' own words and pictures, this is their experience of lockdown life.

Edward Winterberry, 26

image copyrightEdward Winterberry
image caption"I am eager to shake off this feeling of imprisonment and start moving forward."

"Studying at home has not been as easy as I thought it would have been," said Edward, from Brackley in Northamptonshire.

"I bury myself in my study to distract me from the pandemic crisis and the current dangers of being outside, but even then, the walls of my home feel like they are now slowly closing in.

"Without the ability to go out and create new experiences I have needed to draw creative inspiration from other sources, which has led me to rediscover my love for history and fantasy novels.

"I am eager to shake off this feeling of imprisonment and start moving forward."

Chloe Collett, 20

image copyrightChloe Collett
image caption"Lockdown has created a sensory overload... the only time I'm not on edge is at night."

"My illustration represents the increase of sensory overload I have experienced while being locked down at home with my family over the last year," said Chloe, from Milton Keynes.

"I have always been OK with finding somewhere to be alone or to enjoy my own space... however, this has drastically changed over the last year.

"Instead of being in a classroom with my friends studying my degree or being at work constantly surrounded by other people, I am now at home, struggling to get through each day without a sense of normality or peace.

"Over the course of the last two lockdowns, working has been increasingly harder because one small sound that I haven't created myself puts me on edge.

"My only solitude from this is working in the middle of the night when everyone else is asleep."

Julie Jahant, 20

image copyrightJulie Jahant
image caption"The hardest part of it is feeling like time has stopped. That there is no event or place to look forward to for the next day."

"I live with two housemates in a shared student house and it quite frankly has been my saving grace throughout this rough time," reflects Julie, from France.

"Life during Covid has been a struggle for anyone stuck in lockdown.

"As humans we need to socialise and go outside. We need to be able to meet new people and expand our experiences. Being deprived of that is suffocating, but I am lucky that I at least have very close friends living with me.

"The best I can do at the moment is hope that cases will decrease and that in time things will slowly go back to normal, and I can go outside and properly enjoy my life as a university student."

Amy Langan, 26

image copyrightAmy Langen
image caption"Seeing the same four walls most of the time... makes it harder to focus."

"Studying in lockdown has felt lonely," said Amy, from Kettering in Northamptonshire.

"It's felt like this because of the interaction between peers when it comes to discussing projects and group collaboration - this leads to a lack of inspiration, ideas and creativity.

"Working in a small room is difficult and seeing the same four walls most of the time is depressing and makes it harder to focus."

Gemma Coffey, 22

image copyrightGemma Coffey
image caption"This sketch is a visualisation of me looking back over all the things that I took for granted as just normal parts of life which are now just a memory."

"The main way the pandemic has affected me is socially," said student Gemma, from Northampton.

"Me and my friends used to go out once or twice a week partying and socialising and since March 2020 we haven't been able to.

"Other social events such as festivals, going on holiday and just being in the same room as each other have been put on hold which has me looking back at the good times.

"At the time I didn't even realise I was living the good times."

Georgia Haines, 26

image copyrightGeorgia Haines
image caption"During the majority of the pandemic I was shielding and completely isolated from the outside world," said Georgia, from Northampton. "I tried taking up different hobbies to keep me occupied but it's starting to feel a bit repetitive and as if I'm just living the same day over and over again."

Bonnie Hadman, 22

image copyrightBonnie Hadman
image caption"The lockdown has meant that I'm spending almost the entire day staring at one screen or another, and these screens are often overwhelmingly full of negative information about the pandemic," said Bonnie from Earls Barton, Northamptonshire.

Claudia Popescu, 45

image copyrightClaudia Popescu
image caption"We should all do our best to help and encourage each other with healthy habits and staying positive."

"During this time of uncertainty, I have found it hard to continue studying at all," said Claudia, from Wellingborough.

"Yet while these worries and anxieties can sometimes seem insurmountable, there is one thing I know for sure: we are all in this together.

"I manage to stay afloat, keeping in mind that everyone is doing their best... I hope this quarantine brings out the best in me, in society, and in nature.

"In my opinion, we should all do our best to help and encourage each other with healthy habits and staying positive. Trying to reconnect in any way to life before the pandemic and hope to return to a new normal."

Our thanks to the students on the illustration course at the University of Northampton for sharing their thoughts.

"We've been impressed by our students' ability to carry on and make the most of their studies despite their struggles with feelings of isolation, increased levels of anxiety and other issues caused by the pandemic," senior lecturer Zoe Taylor said.

"However, we've been lucky that local organisations have been willing to work with students on live projects during this time.

"That's been a big perk and everything being online means that we've been able to organise talks with practitioners all over the country and internationally in ways we wouldn't have considered in the past, so there have definitely been some positives to come out of the situation."

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