Covid collecting

Posted on by Caroline James.

by Amber Druce, Curator of History

In March 2020, we did a call out for objects, stories and photos of Bristol’s response to Coronavirus. We had plenty of feedback, especially at the start, and the insights were really useful. Since then, I’ve also approached various people, recorded observations, and done call outs for stories on social media.

Collecting objects was put on hold for much of the year, whilst we worked under Covid restrictions, and mostly from home. Instead, I concentrated more on gathering stories and digital photos. I started investigating Bristol’s response to Coronavirus- health and wellbeing, arts and culture, covid denial, and funerals, for example.

Personal accounts are particularly useful so I was really interested to hear about Stephen’s experience of online yoga as a wheelchair user. It was a reminder that some of our experience of the past year should inform how we want to reshape the future.

Another fascinating insight came from Dee, an independent funeral celebrant. It was really useful to visit her business and see how she’d adapted to the pandemic. She too was thinking about what positive changes might come out of doing things differently.

When we came out of Lockdown 1, the first thing I collected was some hand sanitiser, made by Psychopomp Micro-distillery. I loved how they’d adapted so quickly from making gin, their sense of community, and how their business had evolved in 2020.

The Art of Kindness is a one man project that makes messages to put around Bristol, with the simple aim of cheering people up. I loved meeting Julian, whose idea it was, and he donated a selection of messages to illustrate what he’d been making in 2020.

The Heart to Heart campaign encouraged people to make pairs of felt hearts for patients in intensive care, and their families. We collected a pair made as part of a street’s collective effort.

We’re not planning an exhibition about Covid at the moment (it feels too soon), but the stories are all available online and ready to use in the future.

It feels really important to record Bristol’s response to Coronavirus, starting whilst we’re still being affected by it. Insights we’re particularly interested in at the moment are religious services online, vaccinations, local businesses, and people’s experience of Covid itself. We’d love to hear from you if you’d like to add your own story.




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