Finding light in the darkness

Lisa O'Reilly on an online exhibition.

In many ways, the year 2020 forced us to pause and reflect on own lives, yet at the same time we needed to adapt and evolve along the way. On the surface this ‘online art installation’ appears to be a collection of photos with meaningful quotes, but what lies beneath is a deeply sincere and emotional tale that tugs on heartstrings.

Each exhibit is a raw reflection of individual experiences and a reflection of the effect that Covid-19 has had on them. The NHS and Arts Council support this gallery, and it is rich in tales from multiple NHS staff from different departments and levels. There are some accounts of viewpoints from other keyworkers, but perhaps there was also space to include greater variation.

The exhibition allows you to select a story and what draws you there is completely unique, very much replicating behaviours anticipated at a physical gallery. As time went on, I found myself withdrawing from stories from medical staff and being drawn to those within communities. Kate’s picture caught my attention and I easily related to her story, but it was Claire’s story that made my emotions spill over, as I learned how she supported others with their loss yet still had the strength to find positives when describing the emotions and minimalism inflicted on her and her family around her own mother’s funeral.

This gallery allows you to see beyond the headlines, beyond the data and beyond the sensationalised stories that can so often be shared. It presents a simple truth. Hearing a voice tell a personal story made it real, no arguments… you cannot miss this raw emotion.

Reading of how others have found light in dark situations and managed the disproportionate effect that the pandemic has – connecting with those emotions – can only bring benefit. You do not need to be brave nor hide your own story; we all have one.

It’s worth viewing the gallery again and again. No two days will feel the same and no two stories will have the same impact, but there’s something there for everyone to connect with. Let this gallery take you to a different head space and allow it to be the voice you need to talk to or the image that hears your voice.

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Reviewed by Lisa O’Reilly, Head of SEND at an Independent Preparatory School. Twitter: @L_Jeanie21

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