Nicola Muirhead is a documentary photographer and visual storyteller from the island of Bermuda, based in London, specializing in long-form projects and portraiture. Nicola’s practice is rooted in sharing the lived stories of individuals and communities as they exist in a time and place. Each body of work is undertaken with its own unique approach, incorporating a range of visual tools to convey the complexities of the human experience through photography.
Her work has been published in TIME, The Washington Post, The Smithsonian Magazine, The BBC, The Creative Review, HUCK and National Geographic. Documentary projects have been exhibited in photography festivals across the UK and Europe.
‘Unseen’ is an ongoing series of polaroid pictures taken at the start of the pandemic and lockdown here in London, from March 2020 – till now.
I wanted to investigate ways in which I could metaphorically ‘reveal’ this unseen virus in my pictures, to expose its lurking presence in the skin and air – marking this time in place in our history. I began to apply a ritualistic “disinfecting” process on my polaroids using water, sanitizer, soap, bleach, Dettol, and other household cleaners; products meant to keep us safe in our homes and from each other to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.
The work became a visual exploration of the psychological landscape of the coronavirus. A silent and invisible invader of our daily lives, and how we as a society, are struggling to adapt to its presence, as the waves of transmission continue to sweep across the globe.
The results varied for each polaroid, some images morphed into dream-like paintings in shades of electric blues or purples – while others turned into lucid swirls of color. Many appeared almost apocalyptic and dystopian with fierce fiery reds, yellows, or greens – mirroring the intensity and volatility of the world, both socially and environmentally, under the pressure of the Covid 19 outbreak.
The legacy of the coronavirus will be seared into our collective subconscious and our perceptions of the familiar will be approached with a latent foreboding; simple moments will be questioned and monitored, mental health will become a household discussion, and a new way of life is inevitable. This series is a meditation on this new reality, in all its forms.
* ‘Unseen’ is now being published as a book with Another Place Press – due for release in Mid-May.
To view more of Nicola Murdoch-Muirhead’s work please visit their website.