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‘Only the Lonely’ – how the pandemic added an extra dimension to Tony Fisher’s loneliness project

Date published: 25 Jan 2021

Posted by: Tony Fisher

Photographer Tony Fisher reflected in a puddle

Tony Fisher is a photographic artist based in Riddings near Alfreton. Tony describes his work as “looking through the lens and capturing what I see – transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary, seizing the moment.”

This blog is the forth in our #WINDOWONTHEWORLD series which offers a platform to artists who are using creativity to shine a light on the experiences of those who are most vulnerable.

Since April 2019, I’ve been working on a project called ‘Only the Lonely’, funded by an Arts Council National Lottery Project Grant. I wanted to investigate loneliness and isolation through my photography – things that I have battled with personally for over 40 years. 

Before COVID-19 hit, I was travelling around the country to capture portraits and images of nature that explored my theme. In many ways, the pandemic and lockdowns have made my project even more relevant. Isolation and loneliness are growing ever more prevalent.

During the lockdowns, I’ve had to find new ways of working and go out in the fresh air on exercise walks from my doorstep, frequently visiting my local park and woods, discovering nature and my own personal journey. When restriction have eased, I’ve been engaging with people from a safe distance. I’ve photographed people who were keeping their spirits up, moving from a dark place into celebration and hope. I met ‘ordinary people’ doing extraordinary things; a celebration of humanity.

Happy to Chat          

Black & White Photograph. Founders of the ‘Happy to Chat Bench’ in Burnham-On-Sea sitting on the bench.
© Tony Fisher, 2019

This photo was taken in Burnham-on-Sea in September 2019, before the pandemic. I photographed and interviewed the founders of the ‘Happy to Chat Bench’. The idea behind the bench is that you can sit down and talk to a stranger. It gives people who are feeling lonely the opportunity for some social interaction.

The Belper Moo

Black & White Photograph. Belper man laughs whilst holding a traffic cone.
© Tony Fisher, 2020

As a way of battling isolation during lockdown, people in the town of Belper started coming together for a two-minute chorus of mooing, every evening at 6:30pm. It helped to ease the loneliness for some people who had been stuck inside all day. It made them feel part of something bigger.

Black & White Photograph. Family lean out of upper floor window to make mooing sound.
© Tony Fisher, 2020

May Blossom

Walking in the dusk , air damp
With the scent of floating blossom.
Maytime  : just  a short few hours away
Remembering the days past distant
But ever present / now
A wedding  a birthday
I suck in the scent
Fill my lungs with its  embrace
Deeply
Damn you virus
Trying to cast a shadow
On nature
On  seasons
On life
On joy
Be gone

Dissolved into the

Light

I am a poet and performance poet, and have been writing poems throughout the pandemic. This one was published in Lockdown Poetry from Freyja Press.

Brave New World

Black & White Photograph. An empty bench in a Derbyshire park.
© Tony Fisher, 2020

During the pandemic, I’ve been producing a regular photo dairy called ‘Brave New World’ for the blog Mad Covid. I’ve been uploading photos, videos and bits of writing. It’s given me the chance to reach out to a wide community. I’m just doing the best I can to get my work out under these difficult circumstances.

Fire Eater

Black & White Photograph. Fire-eater performs behind a window.
© Tony Fisher, 2020

During lockdown, I’ve been capturing images of local people through their windows. I asked them to hold something up, or do an activity, that represented what was helping to keep their minds busy. This photo is of Kris Katchit, a street entertainer who performs as a stilt walker, juggler, circus skills.

At the Boundary

Black & White Photograph. Woman stands in doorway with one dog, whilst another dog sits behind garden gate.
© Tony Fisher, 2020

This photo is of Denise Tucker. At the time I took it she had not left her house for 13 weeks because she was shielding. Her garden and her dogs, George and Jess, helped her get through the isolation period.


Follow Tony’s Work

Tony is looking for people to take part in his project ‘Only the Lonely’. Because of the lockdown, it’s been extended until April 2022. Get in touch with him via his website – and follow his work on the platforms below.


Instagram Takeover

Tony will be taking over the City Arts Instagram account from 25th to 30th January 2021.

Follow us @CityArtsNotts.