Bored, bored, bored: creativity in time of monotony

What will we remember when we look back at our lives in lockdown? Will we recall the banana bread, Zoom calls and home workouts with a sense of nostalgia, and see the beauty in the moments of isolation and tedium? For some in the industry, it has been a fruitful time of creativity, with the monotony itself serving as inspiration for new work. The photography projects that follow capture unique aspects of this moment in history, reminding us that boredom and isolation can act as catalysts for creativity.


Faced with the prospect of doing yet another jigsaw puzzle or watching yet another Netflix series, M&C Saatchi creative team Camila Gurgel and Ieva Paulina drew on their boredom to create a photography series documenting life in lockdown.

The project explores people’s connections with their bored minds, homes and food during the pandemic, using everyday objects such as sunglasses, pencils and puzzle pieces to create surreal situations and shapes.

The abstract images reflect the melancholy, humour and nostalgia of this period, while serving a greater cause of raising funds for NHS workers.

The Conceptual Boredom series will be exhibited at the Espacio Gallery in London’s Shoreditch from 10-16 August, with half the proceeds from sales donated to NHS Charities Together.

'Stay home heroes'

Samuel McElwee

Not all heroes wear capes – some bake sourdough loaves, do living-room workouts or practise drag make-up in their bedroom mirrors. As lockdown weariness set in, Iris creative director Ross Taylor enlisted 26 professional photographers to shine the spotlight on ordinary people who observed the government order to stay at home and protect the NHS.

Katinka Herbert

The glossy, stylised images paint the housebound as superheroes and elevate such mundane activities as baking and getting dressed to the realm of the extraordinary, illuminating the humour, creativity and spirit that united people behind closed doors. The project is raising money for Heroes, a charity that helps NHS workers, through the sale of  limited-edition prints and a book, with a gallery exhibition also planned for when such events are able to resume.

Jason Knott, Gabriela Motola, Gary Salter


Clockwise from top left: @maxperryment shot 'The birthday quaran-queens' for portrait #36; @joevconnor shot Oli and Laura in Thornton Heath for portrait #30; @tristan.bejawn snapped Bryony, London as #33. She was quoted as saying: 'My hope is that we don’t just go back to normal, but instead move forward to something better'

One bright spot in the pandemic has been a greater sense of community. George Bryant, chief creative officer of The Brooklyn Brothers, photographer Tristan Bejawn, whose work won the 2019 Portrait of Britain award, Omar Karim, creative technologist, and director Joe Connor, who shot the Rolling Stones’ latest music video, launched a photography project to capture that communal spirit.

Clockwise from top left: @tristan.bejawn snapped Andre for portrait #8; @joevconnor photographed Roxy in Camberwell for portrait #29; @siandavey1 snapped portrait #32; @elisedumontetphotography took #13

It started with Bejawn taking portraits of his neighbours in Southwest London, and the initiative grew with others submitting photos to the @WeAreYourNeighbours Instagram account. "This is a unique time in our culture and the community spirit should never be forgotten," Bejawn told the London Evening Standard

@theoglelife took picture #37 of David on a canal near Oxford; #45 Photographed by Harry Borden. David, Jill and son Robert after almost seven weeks isolation