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  • Joanna Norton

Listening to the voices of lockdown


Calls to remain increasingly at home have complicated relationships many have with this personal space. Such confinement can challenge traditional definitions of the home when families are divided across communities and across borders. In her recent exhibition at the Departure Lounge in Luton, Idit Elia Nathan took inspiration from old phones cards, which in the past connected new citizens to their own lives. In her work entitled Phone Home, Nathan invited people to share their innermost thoughts on what their home means to them. As part of her exhibition she shared these stories with the wider community, using phones cards as a medium of communication. To hear these collated stories, residents were simply asked to dial an 0800 number and listen to the voices of their neighbours.


Lockdown has provided Lutonians with additional challenges. Contained within the home, these private experiences can reveal public consequences. Indeed, the silence around such experiences can contribute to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Could calling an 0800 number offer a mode of communication between an individual and a larger group, between a child and their peers, between a school and the community it is tasked to serve? Taking inspiration from Nathan’s Phone Home project, I will be exploring if an adapted model can support the learning needs of Luton’s young learners. Can such an activity offer the wider community a moment of collective pause as the young and the old listen to each other?


Testing this concept will begin on Saturday 10th October at Marjorie's Education in Luton with some of the town's bilingual and multilingual speakers. Pending feedback and evaluation, the project will be shared more widely with schools throughout the community to foster closer collaboration. If you are interested in learning more, just get in touch.

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