Hold Still: Kate Middleton shares preview of lockdown photo project after receiving 31,000 submissions

Duchess ‘overwhelmed’ by public’s response to competition

Sarah Young
Sunday 30 August 2020 17:11
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Kate Middleton shares preview of images chosen for her lockdown photo project

The Duchess of Cambridge has shared a sneak peek at some of the 100 photos which have made the final selection for a digital exhibition.

On Saturday, Kate Middleton revealed on Instagram that the “Hold Still” lockdown photography project, which first began in May, had received more than 30,000 submissions.

The project was launched in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery, of which the duchess is a patron, and aimed to capture “the spirit of the nation” during the coronavirus pandemic.

The photography project was focussed on three core themes – helpers and heroes, your new normal, and acts of kindness.

“There were 31,598 portraits submitted to #HoldStill2020 as you shared your stories and experiences of lockdown,” the caption on Instagram read.

“Ahead of showcasing the final 100 images in a digital exhibition from Monday 14 September, the Duchess of Cambridge has selected some images as a sneak peek of those that have made the final selection.”

One of the final images chosen includes Robert Coyle's photo entitled “We're really lucky to have a garden”.

“The weekend is here, lockdown continues and Bernadette and Francis enjoy the garden,” Coyle wrote alongside his submission.

”One Friday, as I finished emailing at the kitchen table, my wife had taken a chair and a drink outside to enjoy the evening sun. We were doing our best, like the rest of the country, with work, childcare and news of daily death tolls.

“Our son had taken to relieving himself on the plants, much to our initial amusement and then slight frustration.”

A second photo shared by Kate, called “Gimba - the ward host”, was taken by hospital cleaner Hassan Akkad.

In the submission, Akkad said that he took the photo Gimba while she was having lunch in the staff room after having prepared meals for 18 Covid-19 patients on the hospital ward

“On the day the photograph was taken, Gimba had received the terrible news from Nigeria that her mother had fallen ill and had been rushed to hospital,” Akkad wrote.

”Gimba cried all day and was heartbroken that she couldn’t fly home to see her mother and look after her because of travel restrictions during the pandemic. She declined to take any time off, saying: 'I have to feed my patients’.”

(Kensington Palace via Getty Images)

The third finalist, “Prayers for our community”, was submitted by Rev Tim Hayward, of St Boniface Church in Bunbury.

In the image, the reverend can be seen standing in his church with photographs of his congregation laid out on the pews.

“When it was announced church buildings were to be closed to the public to reduce the transmission of the virus, I wanted to assure our community that although we couldn’t gather physically, their photos in church were a symbol that they and their loved ones were still very much in our thoughts and prayers,” he wrote.

In a video call with her fellow judges, the duchess said she was “overwhelmed” by the response to her photographic lockdown project.

“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,” she said.

Judges on the panel included England's chief nursing officer Ruth May, director of the National Portrait Gallery Nicholas Cullinan, writer and poet Lemn Sissay and photographer Maryam Wahid.

Commenting on the photos, May said: “I loved going through this, partly because it gives me a bit of a break from Covid-19 work that we've been doing in the NHS, where our NHS and our frontline staff have done an amazing job.”

She added: “I found it hard as well as hysterically funny at times. When I was going through them I had a good old giggle as well.”

Kate agreed, saying: “It's true, it's like a huge roller coaster, isn't it, of emotions?

“I suppose that's what everyone has experienced, a reflection of what everyone's been through at this time.”

The digital exhibition will launch on 14 September, while a selection of the photographs will also be shown in towns and cities across the UK later in the year.

Cullinan said: “We hope that through this project we really will capture a portrait of our nation, reflecting our collective and individual experiences during these unprecedented times.”

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