Print 'Born in England / Martin Steinberg' reconstruction album cover by Robert Speker, 2020. Produced with Sydmar Lodge Care Home residents and staff during the first Covid-19 Lockdown in the UK. Copying an album cover by Bruce Springsteen, Martin is shown from behind, from the shoulders down. He wears a white T-shirt and blue jeans with a baseball cap tucked into the pocket and stands in front of a St George’s flag. Lettering in blue at top. Printed at the size of a standard LP record sleeve.
This set of 12 Care Home Album Covers attracted significant media attention in July 2020 after being tweeted by photographer Robert Speker. Working as Activities Coordinator at Sydmar Lodge Care Home, North London, Speker collaborated with residents and staff to recreate a series of famous album covers. In each case the figures in the album photographs are replaced by a care home individual, and the artist’s name or album title are replaced with the new sitter’s name or a reference to the care home.
Martin’s was the third photo in the series, and recreated Bruce Springsteen's 1984 album ‘Born in the U.S.A’. Speker explains that, “Since Martin's face was not in the photo, more attention to detail was required to ensure that the right pose was maintained, in particular the position of the left hand. I used Martin's own jeans, white t-shirt, belt and cap. This photoshoot also has a reference to the psychological term false memory, a phenomenon where a person recalls something that did not happen or recalls it differently from the way it actually happened. In this case it is the baseball cap, which many think to be a bandana. Many viewers of the recreation commented that this was the first time they realised that it was in fact a baseball cap. Although initially disappointed that his face was not included, Martin became quite proud that so many people had viewed and liked his bum.”
These first 12 album covers produced by Speker and care home contributors were developed into a charity calendar for the Alzheimer’s Society for 2021. Together they help to capture the particular experience of those living and working in care homes during the Covid-19 pandemic, which attracted wide media attention and public criticism for seeming to be ‘abandoned’ and for the extreme isolation imposed on residents, unable to see loved ones for many months. Equally, however, Speker’s joyful work demonstrates the creativity that flowered across society during the first lockdown, and the work by many artists to offer support – whether financial or emotional – to NHS staff, the wider public, and each other.