The Duchess of Cambridge has marked the end of the Hold Still community exhibit with a video message thanking all those who submitted images for the project to highlight the United Kingdom during the first COVID-19 lockdown.
Hold Still was a project that invited people of all ages from across the UK to submit photos they had taken during the lockdown. The Duchess and the judging panel selected the final 100 images in July via a video call. Upon the revealing of the selected 100 portraits, The Queen released a message in support of the initiative and congratulated those who had their photograph chosen as one of the final 100.
The Duchess said she launched the project in May with the National Portrait Gallery because “I wanted to find a way to allow everyone to share their stories and experiences of lockdown.“
She added that she was thrilled with the 31,000 submissions and grateful for all the participation.
Catherine added: “It was so hard to select the final 100 photographs, but we hope we have created a collective portrait of our nation, reflecting on what others have experienced as well as our own journeys through this difficult time.
“It has been fantastic to see these portraits on billboards and outdoor poster sites across the country as part of our community exhibition, and I’m hugely grateful to all our partners for helping us take the images back to the people and communities who took them.
“For me, the most powerful part of the project is that it has shown just how much people and communities have come together and how important we all are to each other. Thank you so much for being part of Hold Still and for sharing your stories with the nation.“
The Duchess of Cambridge also spoke to Johannah Churchill, who had her photo ‘Melanie, March 2020’ recreated as a mural in Manchester, via video call earlier this week. Churchill’s portrait showed her friend, Melanie, as she helped set up a COVID clinic in London.
The Duchess and Churchill were joined on the call by Dr Edward Cole who also helped to set up the London clinic.
The trio chatted about the role the photograph played in helping to represent those who were on the frontline with the battle with COVID-19. Churchill revealed that since the image’s release, she has received messages from healthcare workers from across the UK and the globe who said that it allowed them to share their own experiences working on the frontline during the pandemic.
Hold Still’s digital exhibit on the National Portrait Gallery’s website has had over 5.2 million views. The final 100 images have been placed all across the UK on murals, billboards, and other locations for four weeks and have brought “the stories of individuals and families during lockdown back to their communities,” according to Kensington Palace.