PPE or Personal Protective Equipment is specialist equipment health workers wear to protect themselves from viruses such as COVID-19. This project and the body of work were produced in the early stages of the pandemic and the lockdown.
Images of medical staff in hazmat suits inundated the media, making many of us feel anxious. While being in lockdown there was a global face mask shortage due to a need by health services and people outside of the medical profession. Humans have been wearing masks for a millennium, they are truly ingrained in our primal psyche and are deeply rooted in folklore. Masks rituals occur throughout the world and seem to share numerous characteristics.
During the bubonic plague epidemic that swept through Europe. Plague doctors who treated the infected wore Personal Protective Equipment to protect them from infections. This menacing suit typically consisted of animal-like masks. The images are of figures wearing hazmat suits, cabbage masks and home-made and found objects as masks for Personal Protective Equipment. Historically cabbages were used as medicine for problems such as chest infections and facilitated with breathing difficulties.
The flowers in the background of these images are a historical homage to the Plague Doctors, as their Plague masks would have been filled with dried flowers and laudanum. Which was intended to protect them from the bubonic plague. The PPE-19 project delves into the past and the present of PPE masks, from the bubonic plague costumes to the modern-day hazmat masks. This work was produced in lockdown and was, all created in the limitations of my apartment.
Aaron Yeandle (United Kingdom) predominantly works on long-term historical and social projects. His photographic practice explores the mundane and the everyday. Aaron’s photographs observe and reflect on communities and places that are often glimpsed but scarcely pondered upon. Over the last few years, Aaron has exhibited nationally and internationally with solo and group exhibitions and has completed four Artist-in-Residencies.
He has been working on numerous large-scale projects. In particular, he has been photographing the unseen world of Guernsey’s communities, delving into social and historical aspects of Guernsey and the heritage of the island. Aaron is interested in how realism, romanticism and the imagination can be juxtaposed to create a playful yet ominous narrative, which tells a compelling visual story. Aaron is a member of the MAP6 Collective, which is a contemporary and forward-thinking photographic collective of visual artists. He has won and has been shortlisted for numerous awards.
During the lockdown, Aaron created a conceptual body of work about COVID- 19, which has been well received. Parts of this project have been exhibited with the New Zealand photography festival in conjunction with Format. Also, in Italy with Creative in Quarantine, the Brighton Photo Fringe, The Southwest Collective, Mass Isolation Finland and as well as being featured with organisations in the US, Australia and Europe.
Aaron has recently exhibited a large-scale social and historical interactive exhibition. The Voice-Vouaie exhibition was three years in the making and included 200 photographs, a film and an audio listening station where you were able to listen to recorded interviews of the Guernésiais speakers.