EuropeStoryThe Isolation Diary by Gavin Smart

The Isolation Diary is a gentle meditation on mental health and the value of human companionship amid the COVID-19 crisis. The concept of this project is to share a very intimate and personal reflection on the long-term effects of a traumatic societal event such as the recent worldwide pandemic.

A gentle meditation on love, companionship and mental health amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The Isolation Diary is a gentle meditation on mental health and the value of human companionship amid the COVID-19 crisis. The concept of this project is to share a very intimate and personal reflection on the long-term effects of a traumatic societal event such as the recent worldwide pandemic. The final project is presented in the form of a visual scrapbook combining constructed photography, hand-written diary entries, newspaper clippings and headlines as well as pre-recorded spoken word, as if the viewer were reading a very intimate, private journal.

As a freelance photographer, COVID-19 brought me not just long-term unemployment, but a wealth of anxiety and related mental health issues as I continue to face little or no income for the foreseeable future. Additionally, I was learning to cope with an entirely new dynamic between myself and my partner Rosie as a result of our forced proximity in isolation. Sadly however, for many people these feelings are nothing new and are personal and financial concerns faced on a daily basis due to the pressures of austerity in today’s society.

I set myself the simple task of writing down each of these complicated feelings as they came, turning my written words into a series of evocative images. The photographs in this ongoing visual diary are memories of private moments, at times when I felt things most acutely, helping to make sense of this challenging and distressing situation.

The project was given a simple set of aesthetic rules: use only what props were easily and readily available close to hand, maintain a fixed standard focal length throughout as if seen through one’s own eyes, and feature high ISO grain alongside sensitive post-production to ensure the process is as raw and honest as the emotions themselves.

It is my hope that by sharing my own short story that others may find understanding and compassion in this work, in what can be a very lonely and difficult time. As a gentle response to very sensitive and personal issues of mental health, this series quietly celebrates the fragile interpersonal relationships that hold us all together, when everything feels like it is falling apart. [Official Website]

PS: Lastly, I wish to dedicate this series to my kind and loving partner Rosie for her unwavering support during these difficult times. Lockdown was the first time the two of us have lived together, and her comfort and encouragement really mean the world.

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