The Lockdown Journals Project

Would you like to write [or stick, stitch, snap, paint or talk….] your way into history?



If so then this is the lockdown project for you:

In association with the Dorset History Centre, Guggleton Farm Arts is running a four week journaling project; as we look forward to the easing of restrictions as they come; backward to the personal journey we have each made in the last year; and take a beat to take stock of all we are feeling right now, in the same four week moment.

The idea is that anyone who wants to hold a glue-stick, pen, pencil, phone, camera or other ‘documenting device’ joins in, pointing it towards both their experience of the last year and their hopes for the easing, for the four weeks beginning Monday 19th April and ending Sunday 16thMay. Taking whatever form they please these journals will become an archive of history in the making, a slice through time.

A digital record of each journal will then, at the end of the four weeks, be submitted to become part of a permanent archive at the Dorset History Centre, with the original retained by the author lest they forget and be asked in the future “What did you do during the lockdown Grandad?”; with a selection to feature in an exhibit at the Guggleton Gallery, Stalbridge and the Dorset County Museum in Dorchester.


For ideas on how to start your journal from our resident journaliser and Textile Artist Jenni Richards then CLICK HERE…

More information on why this is important:

This article, published by the BBC in 2018 is a rare insight into the reality of the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. As a resource it can shed a light on the lives of real people, not just the headline figures:

An extraordinary archive of letters written by survivors of the Spanish flu pandemic, which paints a vivid picture of a nation gripped by fear and chaos, is helping to provide insights into life in the shadow of a killer disease.

Hannah Mawdsley, who is researching the documents at the Imperial War Museum, describes the letters as a “precious window into the human experience of the pandemic”, which killed more than 250,000 people in Britain and as many as 100 million globally.

Bequeathed to the museum by historian and journalist Richard Collier, the collection was amassed in the 1970s and is comprised of about 1,700 accounts of those who witnessed the pandemic first hand’.

 The joy of Armistice Day celebrations in London in 1918 contrasted with the misery being experienced by many. One nine-year-old girl from Coventry whose 35-year-old mother and seven-year-old sister died two days apart wrote to Mr Collier in the 1970s about the impact of the disease.

“I can remember very well when the cortege was on its way to the church. Bells, hooters and all sounds of celebration were raving but how silent people stood who realised it was our funeral.

“It really was a terrible time, not knowing who we were going to lose next.” However, maybe because of its proximity to the First World War, Spanish flu has not generated the same commemorative culture as either World War One or Two and consequently England has no specific memorials to the victims of the pandemic.

In the UK, the most deadly period of Spanish flu was between October and December 1918 and clusters of graves from that period can be found in cemeteries across the land.

“For me, these grave clusters serve as a kind of unofficial memorial to those that died, and illustrate the speed with which the disease struck and help us understand how terrifying it must have been,” said Ms Mawdsley.

“These letters go further as one of the only other physical memory resources of the reality of what Spanish flu was like.”


By Jennifer Meierhans & Daniel Wainwright: BBC News. Published: 20 September 2018

It is interesting to consider that it was not until the 1970s, an era of expanding social awareness, that the historian, Richard Collier, made the effort to compile these letters. How much keener might their observations and sentiments be were they contemporaneous reports?

Many people will tell you that we live in very different times to then, with the mushrooming of social media providing a voice for anyone living through the COVID pandemic. Stories and tragedies can be found anywhere you care to look. Are they, though, enough of a representation of the social and emotional change many have experienced? Are they, or can they ever be, an intimate enough snapshot of living through an unprecedented moment in human history? How can we, as individuals, preserve for the future, and our antecedents, the knowledge we have gained about ourselves, our society and our dreams. Can we adequately expect top line figures to preserve for history the experience of losing a loved one without the chance to say goodbye?

Were lessons that could have been learned from the 1918 pandemic, issues around social care and mental health, lost to us because, for whatever reason, experiences on an individual level were not documented at the time?

If this might at all be the case then can we now risk all we have learned about ourselves, our outmoded social and economic constructs, our environment and our communities being lost to those who come after us?

How simple could it be for us now, in these tantalising last months before a return to ‘normality’, to set down our own individual thoughts, experiences, observations, hopes, wishes, dreams, revelations and inevitable hardships and heartaches?

How quickly, once something close to normality does return, will we forget how we watched nature flourish, how much a short walk everyday helped us notice the seasons more, how to knit one; pearl one, how simple things brought so much pleasure, how much we missed the in-laws and quite how irritating daytime television is? How soon will we again be dissing our keyworkers?

With the return to real life what real life lessons will we forget?

As Sophie McBain wrote in the New Statesman recently:

‘Many people bereaved by Covid-19 have found their grief is compounded by the fear that their loved one has been subsumed into a statistic. There have been calls for national or local memorials for victims. The Forest of Memories project intends to plant a tree for every person who died of Covid-19, and there are other smaller initiatives taking place, but the UK has a poor record in commemorating deaths from infectious disease outbreaks. We have no national memorial to the 1918 flu pandemic; as the New Statesman’s Anoosh Chakelian has observed, we are afflicted by “pandemic amnesia”. This matters, because such a memorial might help us come to terms with both our individual and our collective grief.’ New Statesman, March 10th, 2021.


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