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“A tribute to the city’s resolve”: ‘Lockdown home’ exhibition holds Sheffield’s pandemic experiences up to the light

A Lasting Testimony From Sheffield will “celebrate small acts of kindness and remember those we have lost” through a Millennium Gallery exhibition set out like a home during Covid-19 lockdown.

Stories from the Pandemic Mike

Mike in Broomhall, one of many residents who have shared their testimony as part of Stories From The Pandemic.

Opus

An exhibition which opens this month will feature stories and testimony from Sheffield people about their experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A Lasting Testimony From Sheffield will take the form of rooms in a ‘lockdown house’, with visitors invited to interact with exhibits via TV, radio, coffee tables, pictures on walls and other household objects.

The Millennium Gallery exhibition has been built around hundreds of audio, video and written testimonies gathered from across Sheffield, detailing individual stories of how residents navigated the pandemic, who they lost and what they learned.

Curated by Now Then’s parent social enterprise Opus – with Compassionate Sheffield and Sheffield City Council – the nine-day installation is part of the Stories From The Pandemic project, which “aims to capture, reflect and document the impact of Covid-19 on the people and communities of Sheffield.”

Once the exhibition is complete, the collection of experiences gathered from across Sheffield will be published on the Stories From The Pandemic website, including video recordings and written testimony, and held at the Sheffield City Archives as a historical record.

The Stories From The Pandemic project itself is part of the city’s wider Covid-19 memorial activities, which culminate next month in the opening of a Covid memorial sculpture at Balm Green Gardens, near City Hall, in time for the National Day of Remembrance on 23 March.

Tim Feben of Opus, who has led on gathering testimonies from Sheffielders and designing the exhibition, said that the exhibition “won’t shy away from these sometimes hard-to-hear stories.

“But equally it’s a tribute to the city’s resolve to also be able to share the experiences of people who, against all adversity, rolled up their sleeves and made a difference. I hope this exhibition might help us see the people around us in a new light and with a renewed sense of empathy and connection.”

A free programme of creative workshops and conversation-style public events, hosted by Compassionate Sheffield and running alongside the exhibition, will encourage people to reflect and share their own stories.

Ruth Nutter of Compassionate Sheffield said that the isolating effects of the pandemic meant many people hadn’t had the chance to share their experiences and learn from the experiences of others.

“Whether you lost someone during the pandemic, or even had a baby born in lockdown, these are massive things to go through and we thought it right to create a safe space where people can visit the exhibition and then gather to discuss their own reflections and experiences with other people who have also experienced similar things,” she said.

Learn more

A Lasting Testimony From Sheffield runs at Millennium Gallery from 25 February to 5 March 2023. Entry is free and it’s open every day: 10am–5pm (Mon-Sat) and 11am-4pm (Sun).

Millennium Gallery has a fully accessible lift and is step-free throughout. Full accessibility information is available via Sheffield Museums.

by Sam Walby (he/him)

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