The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge stepped out to mark the launch of the community exhibition of 2020’s biggest community artistic project – Hold Still. Spearheaded by The Duchess of Cambridge, Patron of the National Portrait Gallery, Hold Still 2020 was an ambitious community project to create a unique collective portrait of the UK during the lockdown.
The extraordinary project, launched in May this year by the Duchess of Cambridge, received overwhelming 31598 entries from all corners of the UK with the geographic spread stretching from Oban in Argyll, Scotland to Delabole in Cornwall in a six-week period during May and June. The project was focused on three core themes – Helpers and Heroes, Your New Normal, and Acts of Kindness.
During the launch, The Duchess of Cambridge said,
I hope that the final 100 images will serve to showcase the experiences and emotions borne from the pandemic here in the UK, pay tribute to the awe-inspiring efforts of all those who have worked to protect those around them, and provide a space for us to pause and reflect upon these truly extraordinary times.
The Duchess of Cambridge personally curated the 100 shortlisted portraits. She was joined by the Director of National Portrait Gallery, Nicholas Cullinan; Writer and poet, Lemn Sissay MBE; Chief Nursing Officer for England, Ruth May and 2018 Portrait of Britain Winner Photographer Maryam Wahid in the selection panel. At the release of the final 100 portraits, The Duchess of Cambridge said,
“I’ve been so overwhelmed by the public’s response to Hold Still, the quality of the images has been extraordinary, and the poignancy and the stories behind the images have been equally as moving as well. I wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who has entered and taken part. And a big thank you to my fellow judges. I hugely appreciate the time and dedication that they have shown towards the project.“
Having seen the incredible response from people around the UK to the digital exhibition, where the final 100 images are on display, The National Portrait Gallery has taken Hold Still to the streets of London and around the nation. Located in Waterloo, London, The Duke and Duchess visited the posters on display to see these heartfelt & inspiring stories told during the lockdown, up close. Did you miss any of the milestones during the project lifeline, Read all about it from it’s launch to the exhibition here.
The community exhibition is being supported by CoopUk in which the 400 posters will be on display in 112 sites across 80 towns, cities & boroughs. The exhibition has been created to share the images with as many people as possible across the UK and sees the final 100 portraits go on display in local communities for up to four weeks from 20 October 2020. The images can be seen in high streets, on buildings and bus stops, and on a special mural in Manchester’s Northern Quarter and a takeover of billboards outside Waterloo station in South London.
Curated groups of portraits are displayed in cities such as Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, and London. Many of the portraits are also on display individually in the local communities where entrants are from ranging from Belfast, Liverpool, and Southampton to Blaenau Ffestiniog in Gwynedd, Marston Moretaine in Bedfordshire, Knypersley in Staffordshire Moorlands, and Thorpe Audlin in West Yorkshire. You can also see a selection of works on special community screens in 1,600 Co-op food stores across the UK. Find the exhibition nearby you here.
Apart from the community exhibition, all 100 photographs are displayed on digital screens on the grounds of the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire from 24 October to 6 December. The exhibition explores the nation’s experience of lockdown and the Arboretum provides a space for people to reflect on their experience of the pandemic. Featured at the National Memorial Arboretum, the nation’s center of remembrance, the final 100 pictures present a unique and highly personal record of this extraordinary period in our history. From virtual birthday parties, handmade rainbows, and community clapping to brave NHS staff, resilient keyworkers, and people dealing with illness, isolation and loss. The images convey humor and grief, creativity and kindness, tragedy and hope – expressing and exploring both our shared and individual experiences. Explore the full collection here.
During their visit, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge first stopped at the Waterloo Station in South London where Hold Still features on billboards. The Royal couple viewed ‘The Look of Lockdown’ by photographer Lotti Sofia who described the picture as, “A representation of our daily dose of daydreaming that we do while we watch the world go by without us.” The Daily Telegraph reported,
The Duchess of Cambridge gave a community volunteer a “massive shock” when she called him out of the blue to reveal his portrait had been selected as a finalist in her Hold Still lockdown photography project, he has revealed. Sami Massalami Mohammed Elmassalami Ayad, a Sudanese volunteer at a community Food Hub in Hackney, north London, met both the Duchess and the Duke of Cambridge at Waterloo station on Tuesday as they viewed several billboards showcasing the final 100 images chosen from more than 31,000 entries.He said: “It was such a joy to meet the Duke and Duchess and I can’t believe my picture made it to the final 100. I didn’t even know it was being submitted by my colleague at the food hub so it came as a massive shock when I got a call from the National Portrait Gallery saying the Duchess wanted to speak to me. She called me a few weeks ago and we had such a lovely conversation. She told me how she wanted to build a snapshot of how Britain was coping in the pandemic, but to show all sides of what people have gone through and are still going through.”
William whispered quietly to himself;
“Oh, I just can’t wait to be wing” pic.twitter.com/oKlQPiV3YJ
— KFC UK & Ireland (@KFC_UKI) October 20, 2020