Lockdown love stories go on display around London

‘I knew what I had to do. I deleted you’: People’s VERY honest confessions about how lockdown affected their love life go on display on the streets of London

  •  Philippa Found, an art curator from London has been collecting love stories from the public on instagram
  • The account, Lockdown Love Stories, has has over 1,100 submission since May 2020
  • Anonymous posts are now on display on billboards around Central London  
  • The project aims to show the strength that can emerge from adversity, hope and resilience  

Whether you were a singleton left frustrated by Zoom dating or a long-term couple getting on each other’s nerves while cooped up together, lockdown certainly had quite an affect on people’s love lives. 

Now some of the stories of navigating relationships during the pandemic are going on display on billboards across London.  

The project leader and creator, Philippa Found, an art curator from London has been collecting love stories from the public on instagram since May 2020, for an exhibition that will run until 30th August 2021.

The account, named Lockdown Love Stories, features 1,100 separate declarations about the messiness of falling in and out of love. 

The project leader and creator, Philippa Found, and art curator from London has been collected love stories from the public on instagram since May 2020

The collaboration with Derwent London transforms another casualty of the pandemic—the high street—into a site of hope and positivity, reactivating vacant retail spaces with stories of love and empowerment to have emerged during lockdown

One singleton who has struggled to find a partner revealed how lockdown did nothing to improve their chances of finding a relationship  

One account in the exhibition, located on Tottenham Court Road, tells how lockdown brought a couple back together and they will celebrate their first anniversary by visiting the billboard.

Another, at Greencoat House, I Took Clothes For A Week, about moving in together at the start of their relationship when lockdown was announced, are now engaged to be married. 

Yet despite the feel-good stories involved, reality has been injected too with tales of more unfortunate circumstances. 

‘The stories I’ve chosen for this exhibition are of strength that can emerge from adversity, hope and resilience,’ says Philippa. 

‘A metaphor, I hope, for the High Street, and the legacy of the Lockdown Love Stories project.’ 

The exhibition pieces span across London and have been previously adapted to from URLs in parks and on TFL transport boards during lockdown. One positive tale reveals how someone’s partner helped them through the seemingly endless days when everything was the same 

One submitter of a break-up story, The Ultimate, on view at Hardwick Street comments: ‘Something that I thought had broken me has brought me so much happiness in the end through being shared in this project.’ 

Philippa started the project because she was anticipating that lockdown would cause heartbreak, loss and longing and wanted to do something to counter the negative impact on people’s mental health. 

‘What surprised me were the amount of positives for love to emerge from this time. But quite possibly the most profound thing I learnt through the 1,000 plus submissions is how similar all our experiences and emotions and behaviours surrounding love and dating are,’ she told Mail online.

What surprised Philippa was the amount of positives people took from the pandemic, with one admitting that it made their less-than-perfect dating life seem normal 

Why settle? One dater left a simple but powerful message admitting that they ‘want it all’ when it comes to love and relationships

‘While we might not all be experiencing heartbreak today in lockdown, or scrolling an exes Instagram feed, or checking our phones every minute to see if we’re still unread, these little behaviours that we think are unique (and shameful) to us are actually universal, and knowing that is incredibly reassuring.’ 

‘This project was about normalising the emotional impact of lockdown but it’s gone beyond that to—I hope—normalise the reality of love and dating today and that’s what’s resonated with people about this project.’

Throughout the exhibition, the stories Philippa has showcased have really resonated with people. 

‘We live in a culture that propagates false ideals through social media and hashtag couples goals that can make us feel we’re all falling short,’ she says.

Throughout the exhibition, the stories Philippa has showcased have really resonated with people. One admitted that they dumped someone because they weren’t good enough, while another said friends were their priority over dating 

EXHIBITION LOCATIONS 

 1. 29-31 George Street, W1

2. 58 Rathbone Place, W1

3. 22 Tottenham Court Road, W1

4. 11 Howland Street, W1

5. 101 Tottenham Court Road, W1

6. 89 Whitfield Street, W1

7. Blue Star House 234-244 Stockwell Rd, London SW9 9SP

8. Greencoat House, 1 Greencoat Row, Francis St, London SW1P 1DH

9. 5-8 Hardwick Street, EC1R 4RG

10. Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JJ

11. White Collar Factory, 1 Old Street Yard, EC1Y 8AF

12. White Chapel Building, 10 Whitechapel High Street, E1 8QS

13. Brunel Buiding, Canalside Walk, London W2 1DG

‘In this project I wanted to show people the non glossy reality and allow people to fee a sense of pride in that which I believe the public have really responded to.’

Despite now being shown across different locations in London, Philippa has to adapt to get the stories heard throughout lockdown, when travelling further than was absolutely necessary was discouraged. 

In Lockdown one, the team gathered submissions through ‘guerilla chalking’ of the website URL in parks, ‘the one place out of our home we were allowed to enjoy, which became THE site of lockdown dating,’ Says Philippa.

In Lockdown two, Lockdown Love Stories brought stories to key workers travelling on the underground by collaborating with TFL staff. 

Now as Lockdown three lifts, this collaboration with Derwent London transforms another casualty of the pandemic—the high street—into a site of hope and positivity, reactivating vacant retail spaces with stories of love and empowerment to have emerged during lockdown.

To submit a story of your own, click here.

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