Do you know what I flipping LOVE about South Belfast? It’s having fabulous makers and doers and activists ON YOUR DOORSTEP. And it’s such a close community that you actually get to meet these people and converse and find out about what inspires them and how they turn their ideas into action.
One such person is local photographer Aaron Dickson. I met Arron through his wife, fellow park runner and blogger, Kerry. She told me about Aaron’s lockdown project and I was all over it. It’s about ordinary people in extraordinary times, chronically this little corner of the city and how lockdown has become not just a period of angst and frustration, but studied reflection. For many it has given us the chance to reconfigure our lives, reassess our values and make positive change.
Arron walked the neighbourhood, photographing residents and jotting down their musings. Caterina, a European volunteer for NOW group, has learnt to appreciate the little things and to re-evaluate priorities. Through using Zoom, Paula and Lorraine say they haven’t spoken to their family abroad so much in years. Frankie misses audiences but playing music has helped him through. His wife Ophelia misses her parents the most. (I’m with you there Ophelia: I miss the Mothership and my dad coming up and sorting out my house, and life in general). Like Katie and Marty, ping pong got us through long afternoons in the spring time, and like Michelle, I love how our street became like a village for those months.
Best of all, was sitting with my eldest daughter last night, leafing through the pages together and chatting. She liked the picture of Whiskey the spider-catching cat and cooed over baby Muireann, born in the spring. ‘Isn’t that the same name as the baby in that show that you and daddy watch?’ she asked. (I really wish the child would stay in bed and not blunder in when we are trying to catch an episode of Catastrophe in peace.) We talked about what we liked doing over Lockdown and about how much we missed simple dinners with the grandparents and our holiday in Spain. We looked at the different types of families and the love that emanated through all the photos. What for me was most evident was a fierce sense of pride for our city, for our neighbour hood and what we have come through.
I needed this book last night. Since going back to work in September I have felt like I’ve been plunged underwater- the stress has been immense- with little appreciation of the life changing period we have all endured. This felt like a connection with the hopes and feelings that I tried to nurture over lockdown and made me want to realign myself with them again. It’s a beautiful book, documenting what has obviously been a difficult time, but one from which we can all take something important. Thank you Aaron.