Like most people in the UK, I descended, stunned by the suddenness it occurred, into lockdown in the end of March. The private view for the London Archive, the evening that I had worked towards for several months and the event that would have officially marked finishing that project, had to be postponed to the new, strange era into which we are yet to emerge.
The state's response to the pandemic has widely been described with a language of war, the NHS staff being the soldiers fighting against in the invisible enemy in the battlefields that were the hospitals. This view was the starting point to the way I documented this unprecedented time, as an addition to the London Archive project. I walked, cycled and once took a bus to nearby hospitals during my daily outdoor exercise allowance, from Greenwich as well as in central London, and took photographs on the way, if and when I found them.
It was soon acknowledged as well that the workers from sectors deemed essential, and thus required to stay in duty during lockdown, such as refuse collectors and cleaners, are also doing the lowest-paid, least respected and most precarious jobs in the society. The London Archive also owes much to this sector. Every time I begin to compose a photograph, having, for example, noticed the light that falls on the pavement, it is thanks to the invisible daily work of the street sweeper without whom this city would be a dump.
© Carita Silander