Print 'Lilyonna Sydmar Lodge’ 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 Madonna, Lilyonna appears in close-up profile, chin raised, with writing in blue and purple above. 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.
Lilyonna posed for the eighth photo in the series, and recreated Madonna's 1986 album ‘True Blue’. Speker explains that, “Lily had a vague similarity to Madonna, not only in her hairstyle but her strength of character. Lily had moved into the care home setting mainly for the social aspect and had therefore found the periods of Covid-resulting isolation particularly difficult. The photoshoot was another where it was all about the pose of Lily, and although she couldn't lean her head back as far as Madonna, I asked her to gesture her head back as far as she was able, and an adjustment of the camera extended this.”
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.