Pippa Healy: I want it all to go back to the way it was before
Pippa Healy is a photographer, artist and printmaker based in London. Her raw, diaristic practice responds to events that have occurred in her life, therefore it has a unique sense of authenticity. Healy’s work references loss, grief, longing and violence and it’s rather difficult to pigeonhole as every new project she releases is distinctly hers, yet it demonstrates new interests and abilities, not seen in her previous works.
I Want It All To Go Back To The Way It Was Before is a series created entirely on the photographer’s iPhone during the first three weeks of lockdown in the UK in 2020. I can safely say that I was dreading to see the number of people who would photograph masks on the pavement and empty streets so when I hear of a project about lockdown I take it with a pinch of salt. Healy’s photographs are anything but expected. In England, we were permitted to only go out for one-hour walks for months and months. Many people took this opportunity to escape their homes — we would exercise, even if we have never done so before, or simply go for a stroll for some fresh air. Anything to escape the homes in which we became prisoners. These walks felt like a gift from above, absolutely vital for our mental health — it was for the first time in our memories many of us would go out simply for the sake and joy of being out without any particular purpose or agenda in mind.
Healy’s photographs document urban landscapes she would encounter near her home. In a way, we were restricted to never venture off for longer than half an hour from our houses to allow ourselves time to return. A thought-provoking detail of the project is that the photographer very deliberately used her phone to make the photographs, the same device on which she would receive notifications with news updates and government updates regarding the new rules, information and misinformation hand in hand. Moreover, she would use her phone to edit the images while on her way back, thus creating a real document of her walks — it feels much more appropriate to do it in this way rather than edit it all on Photoshop back home.
Turn the other cheek
Don’t look anyone in the eye
Don’t look up
Focus on what is ahead
The edits are digital glitches that exemplify our fragmented reality and how we all felt at the time — confused, bewildered, frustrated. In her own words, by manipulating what she saw through the phone she began to have one foot in reality and the other in the virtual world.
“I started to be drawn into the virtual rather than physical world which was fragmenting before my eyes.”
This project is available as a zine — it has been bought by Martin Parr for his archive and it has been exhibited at the Lisbon Photobook Fair.
— foreword by Zak R. Dimitrov
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Pippa Healy is an artist based in London
Her practice responds to her personal history, to events which have impacted on her life. Her handmade ‘Zines’, raw and diaristic in style are central to her practice. Themes encompassing loss, longing, violence and grief are frequently referenced. Her work is held in private collections and has been exhibited in group and solo shows in the UK, France, Japan, Spain, Portugal, Lithuania, Sardinia, Turkey and Italy.
Her zines have been exhibited at numerous exhibitions and in 2019 at Les Rencontres Arles Photo text Award. The books are sold in The Photographers Gallery in London, Cent Quatre in Paris and The Library Project in Dublin. The zines are also held at The Martin Parr Foundation in Bristol, The visual Library in New York and The Self publish Be Happy Library.
‘I want it all to go back to the way it was before’ was a series of work made entirely on my i-phone in the first three weeks of the pandemic lockdown in 2020.
In the UK we were permitted one hour of exercise a day. I chose to walk in woodland near my home. I wanted to document these walks. My mobile phone became a tool whereby I would take images and use an editing tool to ‘glitch’ them. My camera was a computer bringing me information about the unfolding story of death and panic worldwide.
The physical act of walking became vital for my mental health and practice. My images are often of urban landscapes. With the city streets being empty and dead I began to question ‘what do I now photograph?’
These walks were interrupted by news updates and government announcements. I was trying to make sense of this new strange frightening moment in time. This was my source of information and misinformation. Five, six, seven hours of the day I was pulled into the online world. I was searching for answers, for good news, for experts and facts. I then started to use this same device to make images and edit them whilst on my daily walk. The act of editing whilst walking was integral to the work. By manipulating what I saw through my phone I began to have one foot in reality and the other in the virtual world.
I started to be drawn into the virtual rather than physical world which was fragmenting before my eyes.