PHOTOGRAPHS taken by teenagers of their lives in lockdown have gone on display on billboards, lamp posts and houses in Keighley and across the district.

The Our Street Gallery is a 12-month project transforming Bradford district’s streets into a canvas of over 50 images capturing moments and feelings of 13-to- 18-year-olds stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

The photographs were taken for Through Our Lens, a project led by photographer Carolyn Mendelsohn, who came-up with idea at the start of lockdown when nearly all her upcoming work was cancelled or postponed. Having secured a grant from Bradford Council’s RESPONSE fund, Carolyn put a call-out on social media and got a huge response. In collaboration with Bradford College, she mentored more than 40 young people in photography, through video conferencing and weekly online workshops.

The resulting images include glimpses of the outside world through bedroom windows, poignant journals and self portraits reflecting a sense of isolation. Teenagers taking part included a number of refugees who moved here shortly before lockdown.

The striking photographs – which gained global attention and were praised by the New York Times– are on Instagram @through_our_lens_covid19_proj/. Now some of the images are on billboards, sides of houses, pavements, lamp posts, windows and school railings across Bradford, Keighley Ilkley and Shipley. Through Our Lens is the first ‘episode’ of the street gallery project, bringing to life the powerful work created by local people thanks to the council’s RESPONSE grants, launched in April to help the arts sector survive and thrive through lockdown and beyond.

Through Our Lens will be part of a Bradford Museums and Galleries photographic archive, which will show in years to come what life was like during the pandemic. The teenagers’ images will also be exhibited next year at Bradford’s Impressions Gallery.

Said Carolyn: “I have three teenagers of my own and as soon as we went into lockdown it became apparent that with cancelled exams, a sudden lack of interaction with peers and a huge change in life structure, teenagers were facing a huge upheaval at a crucial time in their lives. With almost all my own work on hold, I wanted to use the time to give these young people a voice and help them to tell their own important story.

“The project started life as a collection of images on social media, it’s brilliant that we can now showcase these incredible photographs outside across the district as lockdown eases.”