Photography graduate contributes to emotional Covid-19 exhibition

Fri 03 September, 2021
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A former University of Bedfordshire student has had five photographs included in a stunning Luton exhibition commemorating those lost during the Covid-19 pandemic and celebrating key-workers who supported the region through tough times.

Aleksandra Warchol graduated from the University with a degree in Photography and Video Arts in 2013 and remains based in the county, working as a freelance photographer specialising in documentaries and events.

With a passion for photographing people and places, Aleksandra was approached by Luton Borough Council who asked her to capture images of key workers at local Covid-19 vaccination and testing centres. This, in turn, has led to Aleksandra submitting pieces to the ‘Our River’ exhibition, a public art concept in collaboration with the Council and design studio, The People’s Picture.

The exhibition will take the form of a huge mosaic made out of a thousand photos, resembling the River Lea. To be featured on the external wall of Luton Mall facing the new Open Lea pocket park, due for completion in summer 2022, the memorial aims to provide a place for reflection, remembrance and hope.

For those living further afield than Luton town centre, the artwork will also exist digitally, providing a place for the memories and messages included in the mosaic to be viewed around the world.

Aleksandra’s submissions show key workers and the general public around the vaccination and testing centres she visited, and she said she learned a lot from her time with key workers. She said:

Aleksandra“I’m very pleased to have five pieces in this exhibition – I’m glad I was given a chance to document such an important and historic moment.

“It was very touching and enjoyable to spend time around key workers; I don’t think people realise how difficult it is to do this job. A lot of people who came to have their jabs taken on the day were very stressed and scared and some didn’t want their photos taken. That’s totally understandable, and I was careful not to stress people out more with my camera. Staff and key workers were absolutely brilliant dealing with anxious people.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing the final mosaic from all of the photos sent in by general public. It will be a great tribute to those whose lives have been affected or lost due to Covid-19. I don’t know if it will make people sad or happy, it depends on their personal experience, but I know for sure that it will make people reflect upon those crazy times we are living in right now.”

Before work on the giant mosaic begins, submissions that have been accepted for the exhibition so far can be viewed in the Departure Lounge art gallery in Luton until Saturday 4th September. Visitors to the gallery may also request to have their photos taken and added to the artwork.

On the wider project, Councillor Hazel Simmons MBE, Leader of Luton Council, commented:

“The pandemic has impacted us in a broad range of ways. Many of us have lost loved ones, suffered financial hardship or accomplished extraordinary feats working in our hospitals, schools and other essential services. But we have also experienced some special moments; we have come together as a community, spent more time with our children at home, and brightened each other’s lives with window art and neighbourhood activities.

“Our River will capture and commemorate these moments, immortalising those lost and celebrating what we have overcome. It will also bring art to our town centre, brightening our lives and bringing us joy as we return to working, shopping and socialising in town.”

Gallery imageNigel Grimmer, Curriculum Leader for Contemporary Art Practice, added:

“It’s exciting to see Aleksandra involved with this worthwhile and heartfelt project. Since graduating from our Photography and Video Art course, she has built a robust professional network in and around Luton.

“It's always rewarding to see our students doing well, and Aleks proves that you can stay local and build a successful career. She was always a likeable and communicative student and has used her people skills well in establishing a career in photography. The current students and I look forward to visiting the exhibition and seeing the final display.”

Aleksandra has had pieces featured in a number of exhibitions since graduating, including a solo show at MK Gallery, and plans to work on her own project resulting in an exhibition and photo book in the near future.

To stay up to date with Aleksandra’s photography, follow her on Instagram and Facebook.

For more information about studying at the University of Bedfordshire’s School of Art & Design, visit:


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