“The experience of volunteering and being a small part of the Royal Free Sewing Project, with its clear sense of shared purpose, has been especially resonant for me during this time. It has offered me a meaningful, practical and hands-on way to be of use in supporting such a valuable project.”Sarah Nicholl
Sarah’s Lockdown Project
‘As a volunteer in the Sewing Room for the Royal Free Charity at the Hampstead Gown Factory, (based at the Hampstead Old Town Hall), I’ve been gradually amassing a collection of photographs which document and capture the people and processes involved in the creation of PPE medical gowns.
Since May 2020 the Hampstead Gown Factory has made over 50,000 medical gowns. It has been a unique project, an incredibly energetic and practical response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and something we may never again see happen in our lifetimes. Hundreds of volunteers have generously given their time and been involved in the many processes to create and complete the finished gowns, from cutting, assembling, sewing, finishing, folding, packing, threading bobbins, coordinating, and everything in between.
Using photography as the medium for this project has enabled me to capture images and respond spontaneously to the many swift and transitory processes that have taken part in this ephemeral project, which came to an end on the 28th August 2020.
Lockdown has brought incredible challenges for so many people. It has been an extraordinary time – I have found myself navigating a roller coaster of fluctuating moods and energy, as well as the opportunities of each day.
I have also found it be a very creative time. The sudden stopping and quietening of the bustle and over busy-ness of everyday life has given me some unexpected and much needed time and space to pursue my own creative projects, which in turn has nourished my own sense of well-being.
The experience of volunteering and being a small part of the Royal Free Sewing Project, with its clear sense of shared purpose, has been especially resonant for me during this time. It has offered me a meaningful, practical and hands-on way to be of use in supporting such a valuable project.
The project has also deepened my experience of volunteering and connected me to something incredibly poignant happening around me – allowing me to engage with my own creative process as well as the multitude of creative processes of the wider Sewing Project.’
Text and images © Sarah Nicholl