Let them eat cake
During Lockdown Level 4, I engaged in a kind of government sanctioned photographic project. Lockdown walks; uncontrolled environments, involved gathering and sharing images taken on long walks, this has become a creative ritual, as I posted the images to instagram.
Under lockdown in Aotearoa, walking in one’s local neighbourhood is permitted for health and wellbeing. Four days each week I walk alone, starting from my suburban home, these walks are up to 2 and half hours and range between 10-12km, within this time and distance I can traverse both rural and urban landscapes.
I notice and document the way soft elements of the landscape have changed, there is less litter, fallen fruit is left on the ground. Fewer cars, fewer people. There is a sense of loss, a specific kind of aloneness on these walks, I take this time while my children are staying with their father. These walks are punctuated by the occasional police car, passers by, exchanging a glance or sharing greetings from a safe social distance. People queue for the local dairy, the roads are so empty.
Each walk is different, forming a new narrative, as I observe details and sometimes collect plants. As new streets and neighbourhoods become familiar, a feeling of connection expands outwards; this is another long distance relationship, like that with my partner, family and friends under lockdown.
It is on these walks, that I feel my connection to my place, here in Aotearoa. Otherwise, my sense of place and connection is lost in my day to day responsibilities and activities. These long walks refocus my attention to the place I am and when I am, the expansiveness of the outdoors contrasts starkly with the immediacy of domestic life with children and working from home.
This project has enabled me to become more embedded in the city I live in. Janet Cardiff uses storytelling on her audio walks, where she invites a listener-walker to become intimate with the places she takes them. Likewise, with images and text, I have invited my Instagram community to walk with me in Whangarei.
Hearing from friends and family living in other forms of lockdown outside Aotearoa, walking outdoors is a cherished and legitimate activity, when almost all other movements are not allowed.