'My biggest, best, most knackered hug for you (collapse of new found freedoms)' - A woman bent over a powered wheelchair on the front drive of a house

3 May 2020
Clubmill Terrace, Chesterfield, Derbyshire
Photograph (Digital)
Not what you're looking for? Try a new search


The Picturing Lockdown Collection was created during April and May 2020, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. During seven days the public were asked to submit photographs that they felt best represented their experiences of lockdown in England, and from these submissions one hundred representing all the different geographic regions were chosen to be archived with Historic England. Alongside these images, ten artists were commissioned to produce their own images over the course of five days, representing their lockdown experience. These were supplemented with images by Historic England’s own photographers. Together, the Picturing Lockdown collection forms a permanent visual record of this unusual time in history.

This photograph, taken at 15.16 on 3rd May 2020, is the fourth of five images depicting the lockdown as experienced by the artist Bella Milroy, and represents the East Midlands region. The artist has written the following text to explain how this image documents their experience of lockdown: "Just a mere matter of weeks before lockdown began, after months of research, I had found “the one”; my new powerchair. Flexible enough for my carers to get it in and out of the car, sturdy enough to take Dor out for a walk, comfy enough to be the go-between from indoor to outdoor, this baby was going to do it all. I had a whole new horizon opening up before me; people I was going to visit, public transport to access, suddenly I could feel the prospect of a fleetingly rare train-rides for daytrips with Jono so deliciously and tantalizingly close.

An exciting adventure to Brussels for work just days after it arrived on my doorstep was a total baptism of fire for how to work this thing in the real world. Operating, functioning, merely existing in public spaces as disabled people is exhausting, expensive, and time consuming stuff. I was just on the edge of this new life as a wheelchair user, a whole new identity. And then.

The inaccessible nature of my house means this buoyant little thing sits out on the front, all dressed up with nowhere to go. We rarely see each other now. And though my ambitions to adapt to this new public life remain, the reality is the learning curve just feels too steep. This beloved machine, sturdy and robust, still feels so foreign to me. It doesn’t yield to my command and I’m yet to understand its limits, its likes and dislikes, what bits of pavement work or which do not. The reality is, when you can’t find a descent dropped curb to save your life, the outside world will always have a compounded element of fear and mistrust for disabled people that have never felt safe or welcomed there. So for now I’ll just kiss it good night. I live in hope that we can reunite in quieter moments, Doris skipping at my feet, and that sweet, sweet feeling of agency, autonomy and profound, unique disabled freedom will return to me once more."


This is part of the Volume: HEC01/036/02/06 Picturing Lockdown Collection: Artists' Submissions - Bella Milroy; within the Sub Series: HEC01/036/02 Picturing Lockdown Collection - Artists' Submissions; within the Series: HEC01/036 Picturing Lockdown Collection; within the Collection: HEC01 Historic England


© Bella Milroy

People & Organisations

Photographer: Milroy, Bella


Health And Welfare, People