When COVID-19 hit Melbourne harder than a runaway tram, our lives changed – literally overnight. New book Together Apart gives a glimpse into life in lockdown, capturing the isolation, frustration, hope, humour and human need for togetherness that quickly became part of our daily lives.
EXTRACTS AVAILABLE: Five stories from Together Apart: Life in Lockdown
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 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 VIROLOGIST “It’s a relief that our government has listened to scientists, epidemiologists and health professionals about this pandemic.”
THE HEADSTANDERS “It makes people smile when they walk past and see us upside down, like the world is right now.”
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!”
Photos and stories include a couple who travelled to Spain for IVF treatment, an octogenarian who remembers the last time Australia experienced food rationing, families with babies born during lockdown.
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 from the barista serving up 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.”
“Helping to tell these stories made me realise that I wasn’t the only one feeling stranded, even though, at times, it felt like it,” says Belinda Jackson, whose job as an international travel writer was abruptly put on hold in March. “We are all under pressure, all of us. From the doctor and the teacher, to the pensioner and the schoolkids, I recognise parts of my own lockdown experience in every story.”
“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 van Daalen is a portrait photographer working from her studio in Melbourne’s west. She has over 15 years’ experience telling stories through photography, translating those experiences into gallery-style artwork, and has established her book imprint and art brand, Van Jude. She originates from Utrecht in the Netherlands, where she also had a thriving photography studio. See themelbourneportraitstudio.com
Journalist Belinda Jackson has worked as a features writer, finance journalist and currently specialises in travel. Originally from Melbourne, she’s visited every continent, and lived in three. Trips of a lifetime, she’s had a few, from playing piano on the sea crossing to Antarctica, hiking through ancient olive groves in Palestine and dancing at Russian nightclubs. When the world is not shut down, she is a columnist for The Age/Sydney Morning Herald’s Traveller section. See globalsalsa.com
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