Peoples Choice Winner 2021
“Isolation Companions Covid 2020 Lockdown”
I was thrilled to receive a phone call saying my entry in this years Australian Photography Awards for Stories had been selected as the Peoples Choice Award!! When you see the incredible work of the other entrants and winners you will see why!! The competition required between 3-10 images which reflect a photographic story – I’ve never entered something like this before but was inspired by Harriet Tarbuck of the Photo Collective to get my take on the 2020 Covid year included.
“We would like to extend our congratulations to Sharon Slocum for her People’s Choice winning series Isolation Companions – COVID 2020 Lockdown.
Sharon’s body of work is a playful, uplifting account of her community’s response to the pandemic. You can view Isolation Companions – COVID 2020 Lockdown in full now on the Stories website.
In the absence of human-to-human contact during COVID Lockdowns, animals stepped in to fill the void for many people by providing a sense of connection, the comfort of touch and cuddles, office and classroom buddies that made us laugh during endless zoom meetings, and a reminder to move and exercise regularly. They eased our loneliness. It highlighted the role our pets and livestock play in providing a buffer from stress, and a sense of companionship and self-worth.
Our community was devastated by the Black Saturday fires in 2009. We lost neighbours, our memories, our sanctuaries. Some stayed, some could not. I did not want COVID to leave more bitter memories for families, I wanted to capture life in an exceptional time, how we managed and coped, how we filled our days.
What started as a “Driveway Project” became a way to connect and appreciate how blessed we are to live regionally and be surrounded by room to move and breathe on our country properties. The stories included the stress felt by our front-line workers, home schooling across varying year levels, needs and learning abilities and remote working complexities. But they also included how we reconnected, reset, used our free time to engage in old or new hobbies, and discovered what was important – and maybe what no longer was.
Along the way I was introduced to furry companions large and small, we laughed, played, and talked about the joy they bring to our lives. For this I am grateful. It gave me connection and purpose. It is how I managed life in lockdown.
Along the way on the Driveway Project I completed in my local community, I met all of the companions – snakes, lizards, rabbits, goats, chooks, alpacas, cows, cats and all of the dogs. As an animal lover myself I knew how much comfort and joy we get from our fluffy (and not so fluffy) friends and so they absolutely needed to be included in the family photos – in fact quite a few stole the show!
Once again, a huge thank you to the Traralgon South and Callignee families who invited me into their driveways to record life during COVID in 2020, and to APA for the Peoples Choice Award 🙂