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Katie draws on the positives of lockdown life for new books

Date 8.06.2021

Turning the negative of a pandemic into a positive has been the driving force behind the work of an illustrator from the University of Northampton.

Final year Illustration student, Katie Bell, has produced two books which deliberately focus on the positives which came out of the Covid-19 pandemic. She hopes the books, which she produced as her final project for the course, will act as a historical record of how people coped during this difficult time. The project also became inspiring for Katie, who had become frustrated by lockdown during a key period of her life.

“Like everyone, I found the lockdowns very difficult, especially being in my third year of university,” said the 21 year old, who is originally from Alsager, Cheshire.

“However, I realised that there were a lot of positives to come out of this time, which weren’t being talked about as much, and I found that focusing on these positives really helped me get through the lockdowns.

“I always think it is important to see the positives even in a bad situation, and so I wanted to create something that others could use to reflect on these positives too, showing that this time hasn’t entirely been so bad.

“I thought that a book would be perfect for addressing this topic, as it can act as a piece of memorabilia, that can be passed around and shared with others.”

The main book, When We Stayed Home, was inspired by the community spirit shown during lockdown and Katie’s appreciation for the NHS. Within its pages are scenes of street parties, NHS heroes and an improved climate.

When We Stayed Home 1

When We Stayed Home, by Katie Bell.

When We Stayed Home 2

Katie hopes When We Stayed Home will provide an historical insight into living through a pandemic.

Katie said: “I really liked how the lockdowns encouraged neighbours to socialise and have street parties, connecting every one of all ages. Within my book, I covered other positives such as the improved climate, animals returning to the streets, personal growth through hobbies, and the ability to attend events across the world via the internet. I think that sometimes we miss the small positives as they become overlooked, however, I think they should be celebrated, especially during this time.”

The second title, Behind Our Windows, is a 3D pop-out book with positive facts based on the idea of isolating in four rooms: the home office, bedroom, garden and hospital ward.

Behind Our Windows

Katie’s Behind Our Windows pop-up book.

Katie said: “My aim was to show what we have all achieved from within those four walls, which I think is especially important, since it shows how well we have all coped with the lockdowns, being stuck inside.”

Katie's Behind Our Windows 2

Katie’s Behind Our Windows pop-up book.

Final year Illustration student, Katie Bell, with her two pandemic-themed books.

Final year Illustration student, Katie Bell, with her two pandemic-themed books.

Now, with her studies coming to an end, Katie has had time to reflect on life on the Illustration course, and despite the lockdowns, she has, true to form, focused on the highlights.

“I’d recommend the Illustration course at Northampton to anyone that is creative, enjoys storytelling or visual communication within their work,” said Katie. “I love how this course has allowed me to explore a range of topics and creative practices within illustration, and it has encouraged me to explore new techniques and ways of working.

“I have really enjoyed how I could put my love for drawing into commercial practice and discover opportunities within the creative industry. This course has allowed me to explore my interest in social topics and dismissing taboos, whilst combining it with moving image and interaction through augmented reality.”

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