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Online exhibition about life in lockdown for the elderly features Oxford research

Researchers from the University collaborated with a London-based photographer on the project.

An online photography exhibition which highlights how older residents of east London struggled with, and adapted to, lockdown life launches today.

Their stories are interwoven with insights from Oxford research in social science, ethics and history into the impacts of isolation.

The experts hope that the images will offer 'vital lessons in the role of meaningful interaction and resilient communities in a time of crisis.'

Photographer Adam Isfendiyar started documenting the personal stories of local residents during the first lockdown by taking their portraits at their windows and front doors.

Within two days of posting a call for participants on the Tower Hamlets Mutual Aid WhatsApp group, Adam received more than 80 replies. In his 'exercise hour', he cycled from house to house to take the socially-distanced portraits, which he posted on his blog as 'Life under Lockdown'.

'Everyone is affected by this pandemic in different ways. Doing something as small as making a phone call or offering to help with shopping, can make a world of difference to certain members of our community who are prisoners to this pandemic.' Mr Isfendiyar said.

For the VE day anniversary, he focused on the lockdown experiences of those who had lived through the Second World War. 

Dr Federica Lucivero, from Oxford's Ethox Centre, for population health, came across the VE Day photographs. She says, 'We frequently heard people comparing the pandemic to WW2 and at the same time discussing the vulnerability of older people in the pandemic, but what struck me is that people portrayed by Adam had a first-hand experience of both.'

Dr Roderick Bailey, who specialises in the study of the Second World War and the histories of health and infectious disease, says 'The reflections of older people who went through the Second World War also encourage us to think critically about comparing our experience of this pandemic to previous times of national crisis. Is it right and helpful to think of a pandemic as a time of war and a pathogen as an enemy? The memories of those who experienced the Second World War have much to tell us about the perspectives of different generations and ideas of vulnerability.' 

'The photographs provoked us to think about how our research in ethics, social science and history took shape in, and connected to, real-world experiences in new and important ways' says Professor Michael Dunn, who researches the social and ethical dimensions of long-term care for vulnerable communities.

The online launch event for the exhibition will take place at 16:00 - 16:45pm, here:;

The exhibition is part of the nationwide Being Human Festival.


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