PRESS RELEASE: Watford Museum exhibition now open

PRESS RELEASE: Watford Museum exhibition now open

A photography exhibition featuring residents of West Watford by photographer and former resident Eric Johnson is now on display at Watford Museum.

Called The Covid Chronicles: Life Under Lockdown, the collection of 15 photos – and an impressive A2 montage featuring over 100 locals – captures the community spirit when the nation showed their appreciation for keyworkers and the NHS during the Thursday evening claps in the first lockdown.

Eric, who used to live on Harwoods Road before he moved to Apsley last May, used his state-approved exercise time to photograph his neighbours and the changing face of the town as the country grappled with the then little-known coronavirus. Keen to show his support for the NHS, Eric later made the photos available for sale on his website, with half of the profits donated to the West Herts NHS Trust charity, Raise.

Eric said: “I remember being quite moved by the first ‘clap for carers’, when everyone came out of their homes and saw familiar faces for the first time in weeks. It was then I decided this would make a great project as a record of these unprecedented times. So every Thursday, armed with my camera, I went to local roads to photograph my neighbours on their doorsteps. I published them on my Facebook page and Twitter – and it started getting traction and a huge amount of interest. It wasn’t long before I had numerous requests from locals to photograph their roads.

“Each image captures a snapshot of time riddled with great uncertainty in a moment none of us will forget.”

Eric captured more than 1000 photographs, so he launched a competition for his social media followers to ‘like’ their favourites and the 15 most popular were selected to be exhibited.

Elected Mayor of Watford, Peter Taylor, said: ”Eric’s photos brought much-needed relief during the dark days of the first lockdown – and I’m thrilled that the kind-hearted community spirit of the local residents Eric photographed during the Thursday evening claps are now on display for all to see at the museum. I can’t wait to visit with my family and it’s wonderful that in the process of capturing an unprecedented time of our lives, he also raised money for the NHS. Thank you, Eric!”

MP for Watford, Dean Russell, who often shared Eric’s photos with his Twitter followers, said: “I am delighted that Eric’s photography exhibition is on show to the public. He has really captured the sense of community that came about in the early weeks of lockdown. Eric has captured a great reminder of a time that will go down in our history and a period that none of us will forget.”

Watford resident Zoe Walter, who features in the exhibition, along with her housemates, said: “We didn’t realise that being caught in the moment, supporting the NHS, building a sense of community and becoming closer with our neighbours, would lead to being in a museum!”

The wife and daughter of Aqib Khalil, who works in Watford as a pharmacist, also feature. His daughter is holding up a sign to the camera saying ‘our dad is a hero’. He said: “I think it was the first or second Clap For The NHS that I encountered Eric. He captured such a picture-perfect moment and a reminder that we’re in this fight together.”

The exhibition is in Space2, on the first floor of Watford Museum, and will be displayed until mid-March. The museum is open Thursday to Saturday 10am to 5pm.


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