When the UK entered its first nationwide lockdown, Simon Roberts began taking daily photographs of the sea. His new video piece collates 365 images, reflecting on a significant time in our shared history
On 19 March 2020, the UK entered its first national Covid-19 lockdown. “Heading back from the studio [one afternoon]… I stopped to look at the sea, and thought I’d take a photograph,” says Brighton-based artist Simon Roberts. When he returned home, he posted the image on Instagram with the following caption:
The next day, Roberts took another photograph of the same horizon, and posted it with a different sea-related caption. After receiving multiple positive reactions from friends and followers, he decided to continue the project everyday until the lockdown ended. “It became a cathartic process,” says Roberts. “In such moments of collective and personal upheaval, the sea represents one of the few ever-present, physical constants in the world… But the sea is also symbolic of life: tranquil one moment, turbulent the next. It represents the unpredictability of existence; its smooth, placid surface may conceal a raging storm to come.”
When the first lockdown restrictions began to ease in June 2020, Roberts continued to make images of the sea. “As the number of photographs grew, I started experimenting with turning the series into a video piece, based on the idea of an animated flipbook,” he explains. The project continued until 19 March 2021, resulting in 365 images collated into a two-minute video, A Daily Sea (meditation on loss). As the landscapes roll from one day to another – from still oceans to rough seas – there is a sense of comfort that nature, and life, will continue. But at 1.33 minutes, the film is punctuated by a pause. It is 22 January 2021: the day the UK surpassed 100,000 Covid-related deaths. Between the quick, repetitive flow of images, this stillness offers a moment to reflect on the pandemic, and the lives we continue to lose to it today.
A Daily Sea by Simon Roberts is included in Edition365, an immersive virtual exhibition of 365 works documenting the events between 11 March 2020 and 10 March 2021. The image is now available to buy as an NFT via ART3.io on OpenSea.