Born from the frustration of being confined during the first Covid-19 lockdown in the UK, the series started with me as the subject, the Confined image, which is where it intended to end.
But the frustration turned into anxiety, not from the fear of contracting the virus but from the fear of what the measures taken to reduce the R number would do to a society that I felt had already become insular and decreasingly empathetic. What followed was a series of images over a 10-month period endeavouring to aestheticize my emotional journey, both rational and irrational feelings. Constructing the images became therapeutic, an important part of rationalising the loss of liberty and my freedom to interact with loved ones. The act of constructing the images returned control in my direction.
When life becomes difficult, I have always sought solace in family and friends, yet this support network had been taken away. Anything other than face to face contact was never going to satisfy my aching for physical contact with family and friends.
Once again, the country was divided in their opinions, we were still dealing with the divisions caused by Brexit and were now judging people on their attitude towards the measures taken to combat the virus.
Our social circles had become our enemy, Infested with stats of infection rates, death toles, projections of unemployment and a failing economy. We deal with fear in society every day, there are risks to living, life is not just about surviving, so we rationalise them, yet maybe this COVID-19 fear combined with insecurity for our economic futures is pushing peoples coping mechanism too far. The evidence was there, people in my social circle with no previous history of mental health problem were suffering with anxiety and depression.
So, the series continued, encompassing the above, still with the creative restriction of my four walls and outside locations within a certain radius of my home. But it was no longer just about my feelings, about me, it endeavoured to capture the feelings of others, with a mixture of empathy and sometimes my vein of humour, depending on my own state of mind at the conception of the images. Although the dark humour may seem inappropriate it played an important psychological role in the healing process, a reprieve from the stress and anxiety. I doubt the series is finished but the images start to depict a sense of healing and recovery, some optimism.
About Gary Sheridan
Gary Sheridan is an internationally recognised conceptual photographer. His professional adventure began in 2001, when he began studying photography at the University of Wolverhampton in the UK. Gary has been awarded multiple prizes for his artwork – International Photography Awards 2019 and 2020, Paris Photo Prize 2020, Tokyo International Foto Awards 2019, Fine Art Photography Awards 2019, World’s Top 10 Fashion Photo 2019.
Gary’s work draws on personal experience and his natural inquisitiveness in human behaviour. He constructs (often building sets in his studio) a series of work from a concept, or he will see images in everyday life that speaks volumes to him. Whichever method of construction he uses, he intends the images to be multi-layered and engage the viewer thoughtfully and aesthetically. His work is vibrant, beautiful and seductive, with a vein of humour that runs through its body, just as life should be, yet life is not always a bed of roses and Gary’s work often breaks down the façade to reveal… [Official Website]