The Duchess of Cambridge and the National Portrait Gallery launch nationwide 'Hold Still' community exhibition with support from Co-op

©Jeremy Selwyn ©Jeremy Selwyn
©Jeremy Selwyn

Posterscope and Carat have launched the ‘Hold Still’ Community Exhibition, a unique urban gallery from National Portrait Gallery, supported by Co-op

What is 'Hold Still'?

Spearheaded by The Duchess of Cambridge, Patron of the National Portrait Gallery, Hold Still is an ambitious community project to create a unique collective portrait of the UK during lockdown. People of all ages submitted a photographic portrait, taken in a six-week period during May and June, focussed on three core themes – Helpers and Heroes, Your New Normal and Acts of Kindness.  Over 31,000 submissions were received from across the country, with entrants ranging from 4 to 75 years-old. From these, a panel of judges selected 100 portraits, assessing the images on the emotions and experiences they conveyed.

How can I see the exhibition?

These 100 photographs feature on 400 OOH posters at 112 locations in over 80 towns, cities and communities to create a special Community Exhibition, running for four weeks. The images can be seen in high streets, on buildings and bus stops in all four corners of the UK.

Curated groups of portraits are displayed in cities such as Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester and London. Posterscope ensured many of the portraits are also on display individually in the local communities where entrants are from ranging from Belfast, Liverpool and Southampton to Blaenau Ffestiniog in Gwynedd, Marston Moretaine in Bedfordshire, Knypersley in Staffordshire Moorlands and Thorpe Audlin in West Yorkshire.

The campaign also features two landmark sites - a mural in Manchester’s Northern Quarter and a takeover of billboards outside London Waterloo station.

The powerful mural ‘Melanie’ depicting NHS worker Melanie Senior has received extensive national coverage from the likes of Good Morning Britain, Sky News and The Daily Express as well as being the lead image on the BBC News website over the weekend.

Our Waterloo Domination formally launched our Community Exhibition and was visited by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Co-op Group CEO Steve Murrells on Tuesday. The unique location hosts 16 sites showcasing a range of heart-warming (and often heart-breaking) portraits and includes a collage of all 100 portraits. The Royal visit also received extensive national coverage and has over 440,000 likes on the Kensington Royal Instagram profile.

Steve Murrells, CEO, Co-op Group, said: “Co-op has been supporting communities for over 175 years and we are very proud to have played a part in bringing the stories behind Hold Still to towns and cities across the country, through a unique outdoor exhibition which captures so vividly this extraordinary period in our history. 

“Recent events have shown that amidst hardship and sadness, there have been some extraordinary acts of kindness, and I’ve seen first-hand how resilient communities can be. From our own front-line colleagues who have worked hard to help feed the nation and care for those we’ve lost and their loved ones, to our network of Member Pioneers, our community organisers, who have focussed their efforts on helping the most vulnerable, the common theme is one of cooperation and solidarity. I hope that the sight of Hold Still’s iconic portraits will serve as a reminder that we must continue to come together, as we strive to create a fairer world for everyone.”

You can also see a selection of works on special community screens in 1,600 Co-op food stores across the UK. You can find your nearest Community Exhibition display by visiting the Co-op website.

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