When COVID-19 hit Melbourne harder than a runaway tram, our lives changed – literally overnight. Together Apart gives a rare glimpse into life in lockdown, beautifully capturing the isolation, frustration, hope, humour and human need for togetherness that quickly became part of our daily lives.
What started as a conversation over the back fence to break the solitude of lockdown has grown into a friendship and a partnership between portrait photographer Jude van Daalen and her next-door neighbour, journalist Belinda Jackson.
Photographed, written and printed in Melbourne, Together Apart is Jude and Belinda’s black-and-white coffee table book featuring 60 portraits of people in their neighbourhood: the lollipop lady waiting for the children who never come, a chilling experience of a COVID ward, the families separated by borders.
We also hear, in their own words, from the café owner serving up both caffeine and counselling, the students dreaming of returning to their classrooms after six months of homeschooling, and the children rediscovering the rainbows, ancient trees and fairy gardens in their streets as the world slowed.
“Like so many others, I felt more isolated than I’d ever felt before.”
“I needed connection, and taking these photographs was a way to reach into our community and bring people together,” says Jude van Daalen, who started documenting life in isolation in Melbourne’s first lockdown, in March 2020.
“As a photographer, I also know how important it is to document the human experience – in good times and bad.
By letting us look into their own lockdown for just a moment, the people in these photos have connected us all more than they could ever have imagined.”
“Although we live side by side, Jude and I weren’t allowed into each other’s houses until the week before we went to print,” says Belinda Jackson, whose job as a travel writer was abruptly put on hold in March.
“So this book was co-authored virtually, through hundreds of phone calls, thousands of emails and a gazillion WhatsApp and text messages zapped between our home offices, 20 metres apart.”
Five stories from Together Apart: Life in Lockdown
THE HEADSTANDERS “It makes people smile when they walk past and see us upside down, like the world is right now.”
THE CARER “I knew my partner Jennie had the virus, and to see her so unwell really frightened me. I could do nothing except love her.”
THE LOLLIPOP LADY “Each day, I wait patiently for children to arrive and greet them with a smile, but it has become a long wait.”
THE EARLY ADAPTOR “My in-laws are very scared for us living in the Melbourne lockdown. Now, our family in Shanghai rings us and tells us to be careful in Melbourne!”
THE VIROLOGIST “It’s a relief that our government has listened to scientists, epidemiologists and health professionals about this pandemic.”
“Our grandparents tell stories of hardship, and the differences in today’s world to theirs – and yet we have so few images to bring those stories to life,” says Sarah, who shares her story in the book. “I am so grateful to have this gorgeous historical reminder of my memories, my story, and my beautiful boys, to really explore how life changed for the world in 2020.”
Jude and Belinda are