by Anna Blus (all photography and text)

Image 1. Balloons after a celebration in front of a block of flats, South London, 2021

Image 2. Window sign, March 2020

Image 3. Outdoor exercise, Myatts Fields, 2021

Image 4. Court in session (sign reads “DO NOT RING BELL, COURT IN SESSION”), South London, 2021

Image 5. A rainy street in lockdown, 2020

Image 6. Working from home, South London, 2020

Image 7. Blossoming dill, 2020

Image 8. Celebration with neighbours, New Year’s Eve, 2020

Image 9. Watching TV with dog, 2020

Image 10. Man with two girls and giant bubbles, Slade Gardens, South London, 2021

Images 11, 12, 13 (series). Dark months, 2020

Image 14. Keep going, Stockwell, 2020

Image 15. Mask, Vauxhall, 2020

Image 16. Health and well-being express, Oval, 2021

Image 17. Lockdown activities, 2020

Image 18. Woman adds a red heart to the National Covid Memorial Wall, Westminster, 2021

The photos in this series were taken during the various Covid-19 lockdowns between 2020 and 2021. Walking around my London neighbourhood and observing what this completely new pandemic world looked like became a daily activity. It was a grounding exercise that took me away from my desk, the tv and computer screens, and the inside of my home. Discovering and re-discovering parts of the area became a focused way of exploring and capturing how our ways of living were changing: coming across a mobile community health project, going on an all exciting trip to the neighbouring area for fish and chips, where everyone queued outside patiently, noticing court was in session in a house on one of the posh streets.

While many of the photos capture my neighbourhood during these short moments outside, others look inwards and reflect the changes to my life indoors. They’re a reminder of a time when working from home was only just beginning, if you were privileged enough to be able to do so. My desk became a now permanent fixture in my living room, where one particularly hot day I found myself presenting at an international conference while wearing flip flops. The very quiet moments are there too: the ones I had previously longed for in a busy life in which I never spent this much time at home. Observing the world through the windows, watching TV with my neighbours’ dog, enjoying painting that I never seemed to previously find the time for. One is a proud display of a dill plant grown from seed on my balcony, a small connection through space and time to my always-growing-something and now departed Polish granddad.

Looking at my immediate environment through the camera or phone lens became therapeutic, necessitating a slowing down, pausing and really looking, at a time where things seemed to be moving a million miles an hour, even when the world was seemingly being forced to stop. It also allowed me to connect with others in a new way. When the lockdowns and the days of being locked in seemed endless, particularly in the darker months, taking a daily photo became a shared project with a friend living on the other end of the city. Every week, we would give each other assignments, inspiring each other to come back with photos on a given theme. Unable to see each other, we were able to see what and how the other was looking at through her camera.

Anna Błuś (she/her) is a London-based Polish activist for gender and social justice and a Researcher at Amnesty International’s International Secretariat. She was the lead Researcher on access to justice for rape in Europe as part of Amnesty’s Let’s Talk About Yes campaign and is the author of Amnesty’s 2022 report on sex workers’ human rights in Ireland. She is an alumna of the UniVersity of Warsaw and the Irish Centre for Human Rights with an LLM in International Human Rights Law.