Sunday, 28 March 2021

"These Images Remind Us That We Need Each Other": The Duchess Pens Foreword for Hold Still Book

As we watched the Hold Still exhibition in 2020, we absorbed moving and heartbreaking images telling the story of a year like no other. For each of us, there were particular images which struck a chord. For me, it was pictures of families communicating through windows -- a reminder of how difficult it was to sacrifice precious moments with my grandmother as she battled a serious illness. For others, it was images depicting the exhaustion felt by frontline workers who summoned boundless energy day after day to look after those most in need. Parallels were observed by parents through photos of homeschooling, rainbow paintings and virtual parties. The exhibition captured the toll of tireless service, the sorrow of loss, the joy of reunion. With the exception of Heads Together, Hold Still is Kate's finest project to date in my estimation. It captured the mood of a nation and will serve as an exhibition of historical value in years to come. At the time, I shared my hope it would eventually be published as a book with proceeds benefitting a worthy cause. Tonight, it was confirmed that hope has come to fruition with the Duchess penning a foreword for Hold Still: A Portrait of Our Nation in 2020.

The Duchess wrote, "When we look back at the Covid-19 pandemic in decades to come, we will think of the challenges we all faced, the loved ones we lost, the extended isolation from our families and friends and the strain placed on our key workers. But we will also remember the positives: the incredible acts of kindness, the helpers and heroes who emerged from all walks of life, and how together we adapted to a new normal. Through Hold Still, I wanted to use the power of photography to create a lasting record of what we were all experiencing – to capture individuals' stories and document significant moments for families and communities as we lived through the pandemic. I hope that the final 100 images showcase the experiences and emotions borne during this extraordinary moment in history, pay tribute to the awe-inspiring efforts of all who have worked to protect those around them, and provide a space for us to pause and reflect upon this unparalleled period."


Kate continued, "For me, the power of the images is the poignant and personal stories that sit behind them. I was delighted to have the opportunity to speak to some of the photographers and sitters, to hear their stories first-hand - from moments of joy, love and community spirit, to deep pain, sadness, isolation and loss. A common theme of those conversations was how lockdown reminded us about the importance of human connection and the huge value we place on the relationships we have with the people around us. Although we were physically apart, these images remind us that, as families, communities and a nation we need each other more than we had ever realised".


All proceeds from the book will be split between Kate's patronage the National Portrait Gallery and leading UK mental-health charity Mind. It was one of eight charities included in Heads Together. Mind believe no one should have to face a mental health problem alone. Like so many charities across the globe, they are facing unprecedented demand in challenging circumstances amidst the pandemic. Mind's Chief Executive Paul Farmer said:
'The coronavirus pandemic is a mental health emergency as well as a physical one. The devastating loss of life, the impact of lockdown, and any recession that lies ahead means there has never been a more crucial time to prioritise our mental health.

“This inspiring collection of portraits illustrates the impact of the pandemic in all its complexity, but also how creativity, art and human connection can help us find meaning in unprecedented challenges. Thank you to everyone who submitted a portrait to tell such a moving and deeply human story of the pandemic. And to the National Portrait Gallery and The Duchess of Cambridge for choosing Mind as a joint beneficiary of proceeds from the sales of this book.'

Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery shared in a statement: "The photographs submitted have helped to create a unifying and cathartic portrait of life in lockdown. We are honoured to have been able to share a selection of these photographs with the nation, first through the online and community exhibition, and now through this new publication."

The cover image 'Melanie' was taken by Johannah Churchill. "I took this photograph of my colleague Melanie wearing PPE in clinic. We are both nurses working in south west London. Melanie had been readying essential infection control procedures for the opening of the Covid Clinic that week." The Duchess, wearing a blue Boden cardigan, spoke with Johannah last November about the captivating image. Kate described it as "really moving", adding, "It's very emotive. I think it's really touched everybody."

A striking hand-painted mural of Melanie was displayed in Manchester’s Northern Quarter as part of the Hold Still community exhibition.

Posters from the exhibition can be purchased on the National Portrait Gallery's online shop for £15.

It appears the new image of Kate was taken by Matt Porteous in 2020 as part of the set of images the Cambridges' Christmas card was from.

The Duchess wore a red jumper, jeans and her Marguerite blouse by S├ęzane.

Kate accessorised with her Daniella Draper Cupid hoops (with thanks to Laura). 

Kate's camera is a Fujifilm X-T3 in silver and black. It's available at John Lewis and Best Buy

In the UK, as an impressive vaccination programme continues apace, we are cautiously unlocking the doors of restrictions. Like so many of you, I'm looking to brighter days ahead with cautious optimism. Wherever the next steps of this journey take us, it is vital we remember all those who gave so much over the past year. 

Hold Still: A Portrait Of Our Nation in 2020 will be released on 7 May and is available for pre-order on the National Portrait Gallery website. Customers will receive a free poster of their choice from the exhibition.

It's also available at the Book Depository and Bookshop.org

27 comments:

  1. What really sets this book apart for me is that people took their own photos -- I've seen SO many images on the news but these are different. It's very appropriate for Mind to benefit and I hope that a lot are sold! And this is apropos of very little, but I saw that the Queen has a new very special gin available -- thought that was fun.

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  2. Thank you Charlotte. This for me is Kate's stand out achievement to date, one that will be studied down the ages as a portrait of a nation living through unprecedented times.
    British Royalty has for me always mirrored the nation with its strengths, weaknesses and how we grapple with the issues of our times.

    And as an aside if their part of the comment is allowed how great was Mike Tindall's announcement of his son's birth.

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  3. Thankyou, for the quick coverage. It's such a worthy cause, and a beautiful way of showing the hardships that everyone has faced over the last 12 months. The picture of Kate is gorgeous as usual, being free in front of the camera really shows her personality off well. Such a beautiful book, I'm looking forward to hopefully purchasing a copy when it's released.

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  4. I'm so thrilled to see that this project is now a book! Hopefully, it will take its place on bookshelves and coffee tables around the world - a testament to all that has been lost, to the suffering that has been endured, to the courage, perseverance, and creativity of the human spirit in a time of unimagined hardship - and as an aside, to a future queen for whom photography is a story-telling art.

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  5. Perhaps most poignant for me is the photo of the granny kissing her great-grandchild’s hand through a window. Their eyes tell the story. It’s a beautiful photograph, and for me epitomizes the struggle felt by families around the world, wanting desperately to maintain connection while at the same time trying to minimize contact. I believe this time in our history will help people to remember that the simplest acts - a hug, a smile unimpeded by a mask, a family birthday party - are what are most important. This photo sums up that sentiment for me. What a beautiful project.

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  6. Noelle in California28 March 2021 at 17:04

    I agree that along with Heads Together, Hold Still is Kate's greatest project to date. I think it helped people to process grief and trauma while participating in a collective project, even while physically apart. As others have noted, it is a meaningful way to memorialize how people lived and coped through this extraordinarily challenging time. I've pre-ordered my copy along with the 'Melanie' poster, and I'm so looking forward to receiving it! I loved the video that KensingtonRoyal posted of Kate unboxing the book--it had almost an ASMR quality to it!

    I'm a longtime reader and first time poster and I wanted to say thank you so much for this lovely site, Charlotte, and for all the difficult work you put into keeping it a positive place where we can discuss Kate's projects, fashion, etc. It's a respite from these difficult days and I appreciate it!

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    1. Don't forget Catherine was leading the project on researching the developing child's brain both pre natal and for the first few years after birth. This research should have an important effect on policies in health and education longterm.

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  7. What a beautiful project. Such a tremendous collection of photos shown thus far.

    Charlotte--Thank you so much for your continued blog. It's so well done and my escape from all of the daily tasks....I'm sorry any negative comments were sent your way. you do a tremendous job.

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    1. Very true words. I also enjoy the blog. Some fairy tales are needed.

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  8. Thank you for your thoughtful words Anon.

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  9. Zora from Prague28 March 2021 at 20:01

    Fantastic news! I do hope I'll be able to buy a copy of the book... perhaps I could ask my family to give it to me as a special birthday present! Kate's foreword is very true and moving. I sincerely applaud this project.
    Thank you for all the good news you keep sending our way, Charlotte!

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  10. Hold Still will visually tell the story of the pandemic for years to come. I love the photo of Kate. I feel she is most beautiful in more casual situations. I would live to see more of Matt Portous’ phots from this day!!

    Hope from USA

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  11. Susan in Florida29 March 2021 at 01:55

    It’s nice to see the photos made into a book, it’s at a fair price point as well. Charlotte, I agree that this is one of the DoC’s best projects. It will stand in history.

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  12. This book will be historic evidence of a very signifiant time when the world truly stood still in an effort to save mankind regardless of our differences.

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  13. Great project and lovely photo of Catherine. I also love their Instagram video announcing the book! Love it all. They are really putting in the thoughtful work.

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  14. Thank you for the post here--I MUST have a copy of this book!

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  15. Would love to know when this will be available in the US. We all need to remember these times in future decades.

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    1. Hello,

      Keep an eye on Amazon. The Book Depository delivers free worldwide. I'll include as many links for pre-order as I can in the next post.

      https://www.bookdepository.com/Hold-Still/9781855147386

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    2. I am in the US and I ordered through the book depository, very anxious to receive my copy. I also ordered a copy as a gift for a friend who has been working very hard in the frontline as a medic. The photos evoke such powerful and moving emotions, it's an absolutely wonderful initiative. What a nice little share of the new photo of Kate, in her element!! Thank you Charlotte for your blog and all you do to give us all a bright moment in our days!!

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  16. That is fantastic to hear. I always wondered what would happen to those photos. Many were so touching and powerful. Giving them a place in a book
    Is a great way to preserve this insight perspective for the future. I will look out to see if I can get my hands on a copy.
    C.

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  17. This is fantastic! Such a moving record of a historic time in our history. I am with Zora from Prague.....my birthday is in May and this just went to the top of my wish list. Thank you Charlotte for the information and all the amazing work you do on this blog.

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  18. Yay, Kate! I hope this project brings her some happiness after an extremely challenging last few months!
    Beth in SF

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  19. We haven't heard from Becca USA for some time and I am hoping she is well and not having post-COVID problems.

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  20. Beautiful pictures, the one of grandmother and grandchild are so lovely. This Pandemic have stolen was is natural in humans, togetherness. The frontline workers of any profession deserve a great Thank You and gratitude for their dedication to duty. I like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy Easter.

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  21. Hi Charlotte I love hold still project where can. I bought the book many people I have been mental health issues in these Pandemic but hold still project cover the picture of new normal and somehow lifted people hearts in some many ways

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  22. GREAT PROJECT for Dss Kate. Togetherness and Social Interaction is what people need. It was a horrible year hope it is on it's way out. Let the joy of like prevail. Happy Easter to all.

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