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Custodians for Covid: photography prints sold to support London theatres

Charlie Jones, Building Services Manager, the Royal Albert Hall. London, June 2020 © Joanna Vestey

Oxford-based photographer Joanna Vestey and collaborator Tara Rowse have set up a bold fundraising initiative, Custodians for Covid, to raise funds for threatened arts institutions. Its first edition focuses on raising money for theatres currently in crisis due to the Covid-imposed lockdown. This includes world renowned theatres such as the National Theatre, the Roundhouse and the Young Vic.

unnamed 3 Custodians for Covid: photography prints sold to support London theatres
Deborah McGhee, Head of Building Operations, The Globe. London, June 2020 © Joanna Vestey

Vestey has produced a collection of 20 photographs, each featuring an affected London theatre, portraying the custodian who is charged with its care during this time of crisis. The photographs are being sold in limited editions to raise funds for each theatre. The target is to raise £1million in charitable donations for the 20 London theatres, amounting to £50,000 per theatre.

Each image in the series features an iconic theatre space in which Vestey has highlighted a custodian. The custodian’s presence brings the setting to life and celebrates the often-unknown role of the guardians who continue to maintain these institutions. The series explores themes such as heritage, stewardship, identity and preservation, which feel even more poignant given the isolation so many are currently experiencing and the uncertainties so many face. The images are for sale through Joanna Vestey’s website and build on her widely acclaimed series custodians, the first of which focused on the hallowed institutions of Oxford, together with the custodians responsible for them. The series was exhibited at the Venice Biennale, Oxford Biennale as well as published by and exhibited at The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

The final print of each theatre’s Custodian for Covid image has been produced in a limited edition of /250 at 50 x 60 cm available for £200. Selling out the full editions would amount to raising over £50,000 for each theatre.

unnamed 4 Custodians for Covid: photography prints sold to support London theatres
Charlie Jones, Building Services Manager, the Royal Albert Hall. London, June 2020 © Joanna Vestey

Featuring: Alexandra Palace Theatre; Almeida Theatre; Battersea Arts Centre; Bush Theatre; Hackney Empire; Hampstead Theatre; Kiln Theatre; Lyric Hammersmith Theatre; National Theatre; Richmond Theatre; Roundhouse; Royal Albert Hall; Royal Opera House; Sadler’s Wells; Southwark Playhouse; The Coronet; The Globe; The Royal Court Theatre; Theatre Royal Stratford East; Young Vic.

About the photographer 
Joanna Vestey PhD is an award-winning photographer living in Oxford. She has published five books to date and has been commissioned by clients such as The Times, House and Gardens, The Financial Times and Elle Decoration. Her work is held in several collections including the National Portrait Gallery, London and she has recently completed her PhD at the European Centre of Photographic Research in Cardiff.

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