Unmasked is a local project that began in the dark days of March 2020 when a new disease called COVID-19 literally stopped the world
Unmasked is a series of portraits by local photographer Andy Scaysbrook which reveal and celebrate the stories and faces on Dorset’s Covid-19 front line.
Working with journalist Emma Pittard and graphic designer John Nesbitt, Andy shines a light on many of the men and women behind the masks.
Emma says: ‘We clapped for them every Thursday but didn’t see their faces. At work, their identities were hidden behind masks and gowns and gloves.’
Three previous Unmasked exhibitions won critical acclaim in local and national press, and this fourth show coincides with the launch of a fundraising book which collects a permanent record of what were extraordinary times. Profits go to Dorset NHS charities.
In addition, the book is being held by The British Library to support its NHS Voices of Covid-19 archive, part of the NHS 70th Birthday celebrations.
The project was achieved by Andy and Emma during the lockdowns, while respecting all social-distancing guidelines and without travelling too far from their homes. It grew quickly – from Andy photographing friends who are key workers to being featured in The Times and The Sunday Times. It was soon necessary to bring in John to prepare the body of work for exhibitions.
Their first Unmasked show appeared on the walls of Dorset County Hospital (DCH) in November 2020, with the help of Suzy Rushbrook, Arts in Hospital Manager at DCH, who then organised displays at Durlston Castle in Swanage and the Lighthouse in Poole.
Suzy said: ‘Art has an enormous impact on health and wellbeing and this is something people are becoming increasingly aware of, making collaborative projects like this invaluable.’
The project has proved to be an exercise in wellbeing and a morale booster for staff working all over the Dorset health sector; showing them they are truly appreciated, their stories are being told and we are listening.