‘Exposure Asks’: Londoners how they’re surviving in lockdown

June 22, 2020

Image created by Finn Souter

Exposure asks young people to share their worthwhile pursuits in these uncertain times

The coronavirus crisis and lockdown have disrupted our lives in many ways.

The sudden changes that the restrictions have imposed have left many young people feeling frustrated, anxious and uncertain about the future.

For some, it will be a sense that things no longer feel safe and predictable, and for others there will be the fear of a second lockdown.

A report by the Prince’s Trust and YouGov, shows that 43% of young people say their anxiety levels have increased due to the pandemic, and 32% say they are overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety and panic on a daily basis.

When Exposure asked young people what they’ve been up to during lockdown, finding solace and happiness in creativity seems to be a common thread.

Here, some share their inspiration, tips, tunes and creativity, all of which are helping them keep our heads above water.

Scroll down and use the slider tool to see how we responded, and to view relevant thoughts and facts we wanted to share. The images on the left show how we felt, while the images on the right provide information on each issue.

To ease the stress in this time I’ve been… by Marlena Kirchberger, 14

I decided with more time on my hands, to get into some drawing. So I started with a photograph of myself, which I printed out on A4. I turned it over and, using a transfer and trace technique, I lightly shaded across the back of the printed photo with a graphite pencil.

Then I turned the paper back over and put it on top of another piece of paper. With a regular HB pencil I drew around the main features of my face, which left a faint outline on the paper when I removed the printed photo. I then added in all the finer details and shading to my face.

I’ve also been experimenting with patterns; you can see an element of this in the background of my self portrait. I was interested in using bold colours and graphic shapes as a contrast to my pencil sketches.

I took inspiration from a Brazilian modern artist, Beatriz Milhazes. I love her eccentric and colourful paintings.

Self-portrait, pencil drawing with background pattern painted with acrylics, by Marlena

Lots of young people know only too well how stressful life can be, right now. Picking up a few pencils and some paper can ease this stress away.

You don’t necessarily need any special materials, and with drawing you can quickly become entirely absorbed in what you’re doing.

TUNES
I’ve always felt a bit out of place in the way I dress, and I’m into rock and metal music which makes me feel more like I belong. During lockdown, I’ve been listening to my favourite artists such as Metallica and Yungblud.

I saw Yungblud play at the O2 in Brixton in November. It feels like a lifetime ago. I wonder how long it’ll be before I can get into another mosh pit at one of his gigs!

He recently released a new song called Weird, with a video made during lockdown, which is quite relevant to all that’s going on in the world right now, as he sings about how “we are in a weird time of life”.

I’ve also enjoyed looking at makeup tips online, and I’ve amused myself by putting together this video, to a song called “Where’s My Juul?” that was going around on TickTok. Enjoy 😂

To feel less tired and confused I’ve started… by Aya Pfeufer, 16

Without my journey to school, I’ve found exercising in the park and at home has been a great way to begin the day. Sometimes I meditate for a few minutes before I start studying, as it helps me focus and concentrate for longer.

I started introducing exercise to my routine slowly; just a 20 minute walk seemed to lift my mood.

I have now built up my walking and have even started to run. I warm up with some skipping.

I’ve found it inspiring when I walk, observing the different shapes of nature; the circular hedges next to triangular trees. I listen to the relaxing sounds of the wind and the birdsong.

A documentary that has greatly inspired me recently is called ‘Becoming’ on Netflix.

‘Becoming’ is about Michelle Obama’s life, experiences and relationships as first lady. She describes different reactions to Obama becoming president, and how “white people are in fear when black people are in power”. Michelle explains how she overcame these challenges.

TUNES
I’ve been discovering new songs lately. Kings is a cool tune which looks at mental health, mental enrichment and features Idris Elba. I’ve been inspired by the music in the Black lives Matter Spotify song collection, with This is America by Childish Gambino. The main message is about how we have become desensitised towards guns and violence.

I’ve also been listening to a few songs in the Amplify Black Voices song collection on Spotify. I am loving ‘Feeling Good’ by Nina Simone, ‘Respect’ by Aretha Franklin, ‘One Love’, ‘Get Up Stand Up’, and ‘Could You Be Loved’ by Bob Marley. I’m seeking great comfort in these old classics.

Other Exposure projects by Aya.

I have found a new passion in… by Sadie Souter, 17

Lately, I’ve been seeking comfort in the past, in moments when the present is so confusing and uncertain. Writing poetry has helped me deal with the huge unknowns that we face every day, and to channel my fears into creativity.

Here’s a poem that explores some of my childhood memories, which I’ve found have been resurfacing recently.

DISAPPEAR
I’ve been disappearing lately
Down flights and flights of stairs
Into that little room behind
My eyelids

Back to long car journeys
A tiny sleeping body carried to bed
Whispering across the room,
I’m not even tired, as eyelashes flutter

All the way back to square one
To first breaths
When you first tasted what it is
To be alive and you cried

We stay in our pyjamas all day
And watch the same movies over again
We weren’t wasting time; we drank it all up
like a glass of water at midnight

I’ve been disappearing lately
But I’ll be back soon
I’ll send a postcard from my little room
Stamped: To be continued.

˜ ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜
TUNES
I’ve found myself relying more and more on music as a way of distracting myself and lifting my spirits. Every day feels a bit like a Sunday in lockdown and Sunday by Easy Life encapsulates the same dreamy, but almost suffocating feeling, of being so restricted, as we are at the moment.

The song Taking Pictures of You by the Kooks never fails to get my creativity flowing. You Change with the Seasons by the Night Café makes me feel able to let go, and move on from any stress or anxiety.

However, my favourite song at the moment, which always makes me smile with its cheeky lyrics, is She’s Electric by Oasis.

Other Exposure projects by Sadie.

As a break from college work I relax by… by Ananya Badithe, 17

Anxiety comes easy for me during this lockdown. I spent the first few weeks hyper sensitive to the slightest sniffle. I’ve gradually found ways to relax and soothe my busy mind, although I know a second wave is possible. 😱

I’ve been making time lately for my art which I love. I haven’t created anything since my Art GCSE, so it it feels so good to get back into painting. It’s a great way for me to relax and refresh. So whenever I need to take a break from college work, I get my paints and paper out, and put my brush to work.

Sometimes I search up landscape images to inspire and motivate me. I try to recreate them with different colour palettes, and it’s very exciting when they turn out well. I love black, so I’m obsessed with John Virtue‘s monochromatic paintings. He uses black and white to mimic landscapes, and they look beautiful in a very sinister way!

Landscape painting in acrylics by Anaya, inspired by John Virtue

TUNES
Lately, I’ve been listening to a variety of music genres. I started exploring Electronic Dance Music (EDM), and I’ve been enjoying it so much! A few of my favourite artists so far are Kina, Odesza, Sub Urban and Illenium.

EDM is perfect for exercising too; I’ve started boxing lately and some raw and energetic music definitely helps. I mean, if this music is encouraging me to exercise, then I am sure it will work for everybody else! Check out some Odesza.

Apart from EDM, I’ve been loving Stevie Wonder. I keep obsessing over his song, Master Blaster. It’s just so catchy, I can never sit still while I listen to it.

For studying, LoFi music is bliss! It helps me concentrate. I would definitely advise all students to try this out. There’s always a premiering of endless LoFi music on YouTube. I’m absolutely in love with Kina especially; such a calming style!

Other Exposure projects by Ananya.

To de-stress and enjoy life I like… by Ben Northam, 18

I’ve been reading and writing every few days in my room or in the garden. I like to read and research because I find learning more about the world around me interesting and empowering.

Gaining more insight and knowledge about this current crisis has helped to reduce my anxiety.

I find writing helps me explore my thoughts and feelings, and turning them into something tangible helps me feel settled and relaxed.

Recently I’ve discovered Alan Watts, who was a prominent British philosopher, writer and speaker. If you’re up for a bit of mind expansion, this guy could be for you. With lockdown, which has largely stopped how our society was previously working, Watts really reminded me that there is a new path we can take. We can see the game of culture for what it is, and construct a less tense and less fast paced world.

TUNES
I’ve been listening to some UK based music like the Beatles, Akala and Fliptrix. Fliptrix, is a UK rapper. I’ve been listening to him mostly. I love his clever wordplay, with the ideas he expresses about society, and his personal experiences of life.

I’ve been exploring the Beatles endless discography. It’s interesting how their music crosses so many genres; from their early skittle beat, to rock ‘n’ roll, pop, psychedelic rock and the blues. I can definitely chill out to their music.

I’ve started to meditate for a few minutes every day and I go for walks, which are good for my wellbeing. Both are useful to help relax and de-stress.

Other Exposure projects by Ben.

I felt restless and worried until I started… by Ruby Ardizzone, 19

I was starting to get a bit restless and worried about what I would do with these uncertain times ahead of me. Designing clothes, bags and other accessories, and posting videos of my making process, has given me a great sense of purpose.

My creations have been far more successful than I could have ever imagined. My videos have received hundreds of thousands of views on TikTok.

It has been amazing to see other people admire my designs and I’ve even had a few commissions. I’ve also started selling the stuff I make on Depop.

My IKEA bucket hat has been very popular.

TUNES
The music I’ve been listening to recently is all pretty uplifting. Do Ya Like by Childish Gambino is my favourite track and I also really like Eugene by Arlo Parks. I love both of these songs so much that I know all the words!!!

Honey There’s No Time by Feng Suave, is also one of my all time favourites. When I feel restless or distracted, I turn up the volume of any of these tracks and dance around, my heart beat rises, causing a release of those feel-good endorphins into my bloodstream. What’s not to like?!

I’ve enjoyed making my pieces so much; it’s been inspiring and kept me motivated, as well as providing a few new additions to my wardrobe during lockdown.

Other Exposure projects by Ruby.

In such uncertain times I reflect through… by Mish Al Roubaie, 20

I started writing a blog at the beginning of lockdown. Since there is so much going on right now, I thought it would be a good way for me to reflect on my own thoughts and share them with other people.

I tend to just post whenever something’s really caught my attention. I try to be optimistic and I hope that my posts are making a positive impact on whoever reads them; whether that’s by giving them advice, or introducing them to a new idea.

I enjoy writing, so for me, starting a blog has been a great way to fulfil myself creatively during these difficult times. I’d recommend this to anyone else who feels frustrated or bored and likes to get words down on paper. I know it’s not easy, initially, to make a change, but make the leap and use this opportunity to finally start practicing that hobby you never got around to.

An inspiring and funny YouTuber I’ve enjoyed watching recently is a writer called Jenna Moreci. She’s written a few novels and she talks about how to write using tropes (common, recognisable plot points). In addition to my blog, listening to the tips and advice from Jenna has been helpful, and has encouraged me to spend more time practicing my writing.

TUNES
The kind of music I’ve been listening to recently is the sort of stuff my dad would probably play in the car; musicians like David Bowie and The Beatles.

I’ve had extra time to reflect and these artists send a wave of nostalgia over me. I find it calming with a bittersweet edge. I’m a big fan of David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust. It brings back childhood memories and when I listen to his tracks, I get lost in thought.

Finn has recently graduated with a Psychology degree from Liverpool uni. He writes music and enjoys creating images in Photoshop. He has been working with Exposure, mentoring and collaborating with other contributors designing content for creative campaigns and social media. Finn has also edited podcasts and produced music for videos exploring good mental wellbeing. 

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