Elmbridge Museum’s involvement was to record the volunteers’ chats with the 20 participants while they were sitting with Erika Flowers, the artist commissioned to paint their portrait.
However, the museum’s ‘oral history project’ – whose aim was to record the extraordinary times participants lived in during the pandemic - was derailed by the introduction of new lockdown rules. Instead, each participant had a doorstep photo taken and interviews were conducted online or by phone at a later stage.
Over the last year, Elmbridge Museum collated interviews and portraits in an online exhibition and the 20 portraits painted by Erika Flowers are currently on display at the Civic Centre in Esher.
Councillor Janet Turner, Portfolio Holder for Culture, Leisure and Environment, said, “There is no doubt about the benefits the project had for participants. Many have said the community’s interest in what they had to say was very encouraging.
Their words and portraits will be kept in the Elmbridge Museum’s archives and website as a permanent legacy for our local area’s future. I would encourage everyone to listen to the recorded interviews and visit the exhibition.
The testimonials are humbling, uplifting and terribly moving in some instances. Those residents could be your friends or relatives. Their accounts are slices of lives that will stay with us for many generations as witness to extraordinary times”.
Elmbridge Museum is grateful for the support of the following partners on this project: Claygate Centre for the Community, Kingston Liberal Synagogue, Milaap Centre, PA Housing, the RC Sherriff Trust, and our team of dedicated volunteers.
Please visit the exhibition online at elmbridgemuseum.org.uk
and view the display at the Civic Centre, Esher High Street, until September 2022.