Kingston Council announces the winners of the Lockdown and Out competition


The story of the COVID-19 pandemic in the borough has been captured through the eyes of local photographers in a competition organised in partnership with Kingston Council’s heritage and arts services, the Rose Theatre and the Friends of Kingston Museum and Heritage Service.

At a time when isolation was at its peak and families kept apart, through this partnership, the perspectives of Kingston’s residents have been brought together to document and share their experiences in a new exhibition at the Rose Theatre which will open this September. The images will also provide a permanent addition to Kingston History Centre’s Archive, capturing for future generations, an extraordinary moment in time in the borough’s history.

Taking as its theme ‘Lockdown and Out’, Kingston residents were invited to take part in Kingston History Centre and the Friends of Kingston Museum and Heritage Service’s annual photography competition, Capture Kingston, which was set up in memory of Les Kirkin to record, through photography, the ever changing history of the borough.

All the photographs submitted were taken between July 2020 and January 2021 and feature everyday life at the peak of the national restrictions. From lockdown objects and artworks to social distancing and empty landscapes, the competition received an amazing response with over 400 photographs submitted from residents of all ages. Together they provide an extraordinary and touching insight into life during the pandemic.

Cllr Rebekah Moll, Portfolio Holder for Culture at Kingston Council, said: “Throughout the past year and more we have faced many restrictions and challenges that have limited our contact with friends and family. However, during this period, expression and creativity have flourished and we wanted to celebrate this spirit.

“While the pandemic is not over, and we still need to be careful and keep our loved ones safe, it is also time to recognise the amazing efforts of all Kingston residents, businesses, charities and organisations who have come together to support each other through this hard time.

“Arts, heritage and culture are such a big part of what makes our borough such a unique and special place, and seeing the creativity and talent of our residents through this competition is incredibly uplifting and makes me feel very proud. These photographs will become part of the historical collection at Kingston History Centre and will be held in the archives as part of our COVID-19 Collection, preserving the story of life in the borough during the pandemic for future generations.”

Rachael Lowndes, Rose Theatre Executive Team, said: “The Rose has always been a dynamic hub for all members of the Kingston community. During the pandemic when our stage fell silent, it was heart-breaking not only for staff, but for our loyal audiences. Even though our doors were closed, we wanted to do all that we could to reach the people of Kingston. ‘Lockdown & Out’ has provided an outlet for local creativity; it’s a window into the lives of local residents and highlights the places that have taken on significance during these most difficult of times.”

Anne McCormack, Secretary of the Friends of Kingston Museum and Heritage Service, said they were delighted with the success of this year’s Capture Kingston community photographic completion which has ‘captured’ in so many different ways the impact that COVID-19 has had on all our lives:

“Many congratulations to our deserving winners this year and thank you to everyone who took part. All the entries will be retained in the collections and will form an important record of an extraordinary year.”

“The Friends established the competition in 2001 following the death of Les Kirkin, a member and a much respected professional local photographer, who undertook photographic work for the museum over many years. It is a fitting memorial to him that this annual competition was established in his name and has prospered ever since, enhancing the local history pictorial collections year by year.”

The majority of photographs entered into the competition, including the winning images in each category, will be displayed in a special exhibition at the Rose Theatre, running from 1 September – 31 October 2021.