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Serena does Chloe's hair, sat at the window
CREDIT: Julia Fullerton-Batten

Lives in lockdown revealed by Julia Fullerton-Batten FRPS

All images from the series Looking Out From Within

When the UK went into lockdown following the Covid-19 outbreak, fine-art photographer Julia Fullerton-Batten FRPS was planning one of the cinematic shoots she is known for.

“I was ultra-busy planning a shoot with a large team of people including assistants, stylists, a hair and make-up team and set designers,” she says. “Then suddenly everything stopped.”

Her reaction was to ask people in her west London neighbourhood whether she could photograph them. The resulting project, Looking Out From Within, captures feelings of isolation, longing and loss. “It helped keep me sane in these exceptional times,” she says.

We bring you six images from the series – and the stories behind them.

 

Serena and Chloe, Lockdown Day 16

How has Covid-19 affected you? 

“The biggest impact Covid-19 has had on me is through my work. As a photographer in the early stages of my career, I’ve gone from a fast-paced work life to one that’s been completely shut down.”

What lessons has Covid-19 taught you so far?

“It’s allowed me to relearn the importance of giving myself time to rest and reflect.” 

Who do you live with?

“My mum and my younger sister.” 

What do you miss most?

“Definitely the social side of things. I really took hanging out with my friends for granted. I’ve also had to miss out on travelling for work and holidays during this time which has been a real shame.”

Describe your current situation

“My main priority is keeping myself and everyone around me safe. Staying indoors is a small sacrifice to make for the safety of others, so my main aim is to find new ways of using this time positively and taking care of my mental health.”


Chloe, Lockdown Day 19

Chloe looks out of her window in dressing gown
CREDIT: Julia Fullerton-Batten

How has Covid-19 affected you?
 
“Covid-19 has affected my work-home life balance. I work as a performer and designer, so the majority of my work happens in the evenings. For the first time in a long time, my evenings are my own.”

What lessons has Covid-19 taught you so far?

“I lost two months’ worth of dance work, as well as additional freelance teaching overnight. We’re incredibly lucky there are petitions to help the self-employed, and fundraisers to help theatres re-open. It gives us hope our careers will continue post-pandemic.

“In the meantime, the only thing we can do is to create at home, keep in touch with our loved ones and rebalance ourselves. It’s a strange time because it feels like we are living in the past and the future. There’s a real retro feeling to the experience, almost as though we’ve been transported back in time to the 1980s. I think this stems from taking time out of the sheer speed of the 21st century to call up our family and friends, and really listening.”

What do you miss most? 

“The thing I miss the most isn’t performing, it’s access to my family. I’ve missed Mother’s Day and Easter, and feel really guilty about that. However, I’m lucky enough to live with a group of friends, and we’re finally able to make time to cook and eat meals together again as our busy schedules no longer clash.”

Describe your current situation.

“Time has slowed. On the other hand, there’s also something inherently futuristic about our current situation. A lot of the news makes me feel as though we’re in a film, or even an episode of Black Mirror. We’re taking virtual yoga sessions, dance classes, even partying online. Theatre is being streamed online – the ‘liveness’ has been taken out of the ‘live’. The future is online and we are living it.”


Bethan, Lockdown Day 43

Bethan looks out on to her garden in floral dress and face mask
CREDIT: Julia Fullerton-Batten

How has Covid-19 affected you?

“The biggest impact Covid-19 has had on my life is that I will be going in to work a lot earlier than expected. I am in my final year of medical school and sat my final exams in January, expecting to graduate in July. Instead, I graduated early and start work as a doctor this week.”

What lessons has Covid-19 taught you so far?
 
“Going out and seeing my friends is what makes me happy. I will not be turning down a beer garden opportunity ever again.” 

Who do you live with? 

“I am living with my mum and my two younger sisters. We all have the same dark sense of humour and taste in television, so it’s worked well thus far. Our golden retriever Suki is probably going to have separation anxiety when this is over.”

What do you miss most? 

“It has been strange not being able to see my boyfriend, who is working as a doctor in Oxford. I can’t imagine what quarantine would be like before mobile phones and the internet – I think that’s been a saving grace for so many.” 

Describe your current situation.

“Living through this pandemic has made me recognise how often I take for granted things others are struggling without, especially at the moment. l am so privileged to have my health, job security, family, access to a garden. It’s easy to forget that sometimes.”


Tessa, Lockdown Day 59

Tessa stands behind her front door, exposed wearing a face mask
CREDIT: Julia Fullerton-Batten

How has Covid-19 affected you?

“Curtailments and creations. Like many, I haven’t been able to see my parents – my mother is in the highly vulnerable category. Nor have I been able to see my friends, though I am an introvert so that isn’t awfully unusual.

“I’ve gained 6kg in weight, despite regular HIT videos (where I dress in manga cosplay and live stream on Instagram). I have been able to spend the extra time working on myself, however. More introspection, more reassessing where I am in my life and what I really want out of it. Also, I baked a perfect meringue pie from scratch. As well as sorting through my obscure Japanese DVD collection. Rediscovering Weather Woman and Weather Woman 2 was a treat.” 

What lessons has Covid-19 taught you so far?

“Reinforced something I always remind myself about – humans are fragile and death is inevitable. A thought that I take comfort in as it’s a great leveller.”

Who do you live with?

“My flatmates – a recently married couple who are having to spend their honeymoon with me. I try to present them with an occasional cocktail while wearing a maid uniform to make them feel better about the situation.” 

What do you miss most?

“Cabaret nights and underground parties. Meeting new people at my friends’ monthly artist suppers. Modelling. The seaside. Paris and Japan.”

Describe your current situation

“At this exact moment, I am lying like a lizard in the coolest spot at home – stuck to a shady bit of wall, trying to avoid the heat.”


Alice, Lockdown Day 76

Alice stands at the window in a floral kimono
CREDIT: Julia Fullerton-Batten

How has Covid-19 affected you?

“We have been very lucky and nobody in our house has had the virus.” 

What lessons has Covid-19 taught you so far?

“Where there’s sadness there’s happiness too if you look for it.” 

Who do you live with?

“My mummy and daddy and pets.”

What do you miss the most?

“Seeing my friends and relatives and being able to hug them.” 

Describe your current situation.

“We have been home since March. Mummy and Daddy are lucky and can work at home. I have been busy with schoolwork and our teachers have worked hard to keep things as normal as they can for us. I see my friends on Zoom and we play computer games together. 

“I saw my nana and grandpa from down the garden. It was very nice but strange not to be allowed to hug. I hope we can go back to school soon. Lockdown has made me appreciate actually being able to see my teachers and friends so much more.”


Kitty, Lockdown Day 92

Kitty looks out of the window wearing a yellow dress
CREDIT: Julia Fullerton-Batten

How has Covid-19 affected you?

“My take on this situation is probably like most people’s – except that I get regular, depressing letters from the Department of Health and Social Security reminding me I am identified as clinically extremely vulnerable and at risk of severe illness if I catch the virus. 

“Of course this is exacerbated by my age as well. However, I never felt fitter or more energetic and take daily walks just to see some life and people in the area.”

What lessons has Covid-19 taught you so far?

“Who knows when life will return to anything like normal? I think I have learnt to take each day as it comes and to be less demanding about what I think I need or want to do.”

Who do you live with?

“I live alone but have the support of a daughter and a son and his family who live not far away, which is a great comfort.”

What do you miss most?

“I miss the freedom and ability to be able to hop on a bus or tube train and go to the British Museum or the National Gallery for instance, and then meet friends for a catch-up or a trip to the cinema. Not to mention holidays – which seem in the distant past.”

All images from the series Looking Out From Within
by Julia Fullerton-Batten FRPS