Nottingham museum encourages mindful moments

12 Feb 2021 01:48 PM

The National Justice Museum (NJM) in Nottingham is sharing moments of hope, connection and constraint through letters documenting the first Covid-19 lockdown in 2020. 

When NJM’s Constraint/Restraint exhibition was forced to close in March 2020, Letters of Constraint was launched, inviting people to write a reflective letter about the lockdown experience. The shared words offer a glimpse of mass societal constraint, told through individual stories of isolation. 

Photograph of assorted handwritten letters

People were encouraged to spend a mindful moment writing about their experiences of lockdown, recording everyday feelings and observations. The typed and handwritten letters document different perspectives, magnifying hope, hopelessness, inequality, resilience, and vulnerability.

Peter Knott, Area Director for Arts Council England, yesterday said:

“Letter writing has the power to bring us together, create space for reflection and spark conversation.

“Being able to explore our experiences though creativity allows people from all communities to connect, and we’re proud to support the National Justice Museum as they continue to unite people and record history in these challenging times.”

Andrea-Hadley Johnson, Artistic Programme Manager at the National Justice Museum, yesterday said:

“The letters articulate uncertainty and fear along with beautiful moments of kindness, hope and connectivity. They arrived from across the country, from people living in prison, people juggling home schooling with work, people embracing the momentary calm or struggling with lack of human contact. We hope that the act of writing has provided space for reflection and that the shared letters encourage connection, empathy and solidarity.”

Black and white photo of a hand with writing on the palm

The letters will join the museum's existing archive collection to provide a snapshot of life within this historically significant time. Working with NJM writer in residence Dr Martin Glynn and V21 Artspace, the letters have also been shaped into a digital book and added to the ‘Constraint Restraint’ virtual exhibition.

Read the digitised letters or explore the exhibition here.