On May 6, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, announced a new creative initiative to capture and document life in lockdown Britain. The “Hold Still” project is being run by the National Portrait Gallery in London, of which Middleton is a patron.
The Gallery describes the initiative as “an ambitious community project to create a unique photographic portrait which captures the spirit, mood, hopes, fears, and feelings of the nation” as it continues to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.
This week, the United Kingdom’s COVID-19 death toll officially surpassed the rest of Europe, including the most heavily affected countries of Italy and Spain.
Middleton is inviting every citizen in the nation, regardless of age and technical ability, to submit images. Participants will be judged on the storytelling element of their work, rather than photographic expertise. Anyone interested also has to write a short statement detailing the emotions and background concept behind the image. The project is split into three themes: Helpers and Heroes, Your New Normal, and Acts of Kindness.
The best 100 photos will be displayed as part of a virtual exhibition on the National Portrait Gallery’s website, and a select few will be shown across the country this summer.
“We’ve all been struck by some of the incredible images we’ve seen which have given us an insight into the experiences and stories of people across the country,” Middleton said in a statement reported by Reuters, adding, “Some desperately sad images showing the human tragedy of this pandemic and other uplifting pictures showing people coming together to support those more vulnerable.”
The photo initiative aims to support those staying at home to keep the healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed, thus demonstrating what she refers to as the “resilience, bravery, and kindness” of the people of the UK.