Print 'blink-182' 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 the band Blink-182, Hilda appears half-length wearing a red jumper, white coat with a ‘Blink-182’ badge, and white hat with a red cross. Her arm is raised as she puts on a blue glove and shows a butterfly tattoo. Printed at the size of a standard LP record sleeve. Signed and edition numbered below.
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.
This was the twelfth photo in the series, and recreated Blink-182's 1999 album ‘Enema of the State’. Speker explains that he “really wanted to recreate this album cover, such is the power of the image. This recreation took the greatest amount of planning, hence it being the last photo in the initial series. I made the nurse's cap, the blue butterfly tattoo and the Blink-182 badge, completing the props with a chef's whites, applying Hilda's own eyeshadow, eyeliner, blusher and lipstick, and Hilda's own red top replacing the red bra. My wife was already in labour with our third child, but she allowed me to return to work briefly. I took Hilda off to get her ready, completing the photoshoot just before I got a phone-call to say that an ambulance had been called for my wife as she was in labour and that I should hurry home. Thankfully, we had a baby girl safely, born less than an hour after the photo of Hilda was taken.”
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.