TWO FACES OF COVID-19 SILENCE

Silence comes in so many varieties. Living in rural South Oxfordshire, I was fortunate to be able to embrace the silence of lockdown with my family at home. From this privileged position, it was easy to enjoy the quiet sounds that had previously been masked by traffic, construction and the thunderous omnipresence of aircraft circling for Heathrow. I continue to enjoy venturing out to the village green every morning to listen, record and write a diary of the changing soundscape as we come out of lockdown. http://www.sound-diaries.co.uk/category/lockdown-projects/distal-bodies/

Watching the surreal media footage of empty streets, locked-down businesses and masked pedestrians, I’ve been reminded of another face of silence, that heralding an unnerving change from normality, with all the anxiety that it represents. For many, the silence of lockdown has been unfamiliar, uncomfortable and oppressive, a constant reminder of the uncertainty and threat that the Covid-19 virus presents. Yet, on the same news bulletins it’s been heartening to see how public green spaces have become a treasured haven, a stone’s throw from the confinement of walls, screens and strained relationships. Urban green spaces may not always be quiet, but they can offer a familiarly comforting silence that maintains our connection with the natural world. The importance of acquainting ourselves with these places, protecting them and appreciating the quiet connections that they foster, makes the work of Silent Space all the more timely and pertinent.