Pandemic love stories will take over London's high streets

Lockdown Love Stories is the Instagram account that got us through the bleak lockdowns, when love felt confined to those who already lived with their partners.

But as more people anonymously submitted their stories, the page served to show us that love is always around us and always has its way of coming in – even when the odds are stacked against it.

From new love to breakups, the account documents over a thousand romantic stories from people across UK and even further afield.

Now, that concept is being physicalised and exhibited around London, following on from its previous TFL takeover.

Across 13 vacant London retail sites owned by Derwent, selected stories will be vinyled onto buildings to breathe life back into our dying high streets.

Philippa Found, the artist behind the now viral Instagram account, wants to take her project to the high street as in order to bring art to ‘non-art places in order to reach a larger more diverse audience’, as she tells Metro.co.uk.

‘When lockdown happened and traditional exhibiting opportunities were limited and closed there was also an opportunity to think creatively about how to innovate non-art spaces with art,’ she says.

For this exhibition, Philippa selected submissions that focus on self-love, deleting exes, friendship, falling in love and positive breakups, to avoid the traditional ‘happily ever after’ tales in which we’re already submerged.

‘They’re ones that show strength in spite of adversity, resilience, and hope – which is a metaphor, I hope, for what’s the come for the high street,’ she says.

‘The stories submitted to lockdown love stories are real and raw because they’re anonymous, people feel safe to confess the things we don’t normally talk about, and there is massive mental health benefits in that. 

‘I wanted to amplify normal peoples’ true love stories to showcase the reality of love and dating today – bringing these stories to physical space is a way to do that.

‘It’s also a way to reach a wider audience who wouldn’t necessarily normally engage with or be represented in an art or storytelling project.’

Just as traditional modes of building romance took a hit over the various lockdowns, she says the high street is ‘another casualty of the pandemic’, which is why she wants to fill this space.

Sharing these stories matters she believes, ‘because sharing normalises’.

‘We live in a culture that perpetuates false ideals through social media curated edits such as #couplesgoals, which can make us all feel like we’re falling short,’ she tells us.

‘Lockdown Love Stories – sharing the less glossy reality – aims to counter that, showing people that their true experiences and emotions are actually totally normal, and there is massive reassurance in that.

‘People DM me all the time things like: “It’s funny how everyone has a story like this”. 

‘That’s why I think it’s so important to share these stories, so everyone might better know, and feel better about their reality.

‘In lockdown, when we were isolated from each other, spending more time online, that seemed more important that ever.’

Even now, with lockdown (hopefully) far behind us and the ebb and flow of our collective romantic lives coming back into being, this seems an important message to remember.

Where to see the multi-site exhibition

From August 12 to 30, you can head to these site locations:

  • 29-31 George Street, W1
  • 58 Rathbone Place, W1
  • 22 Tottenham Court Road, W1
  • 11 Howland Street, W1
  • 101 Tottenham Court Road, W1
  • 89 Whitfield Street, W1
  • Blue Star House, 234-244 Stockwell Rd, London SW9 9SP
  • Greencoat House, 1 Greencoat Row, Francis St, London SW1P 1DH
  • 5-8 Hardwick Street, EC1R 4RG
  • Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JJ
  • White Collar Factory, 1 Old Street Yard, EC1Y 8AF
  • White Chapel Building, 10 Whitechapel High Street, E1 8QS
  • Brunel Buiding, Canalside Walk, London W2 1DG

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