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Custodians for Covid is Joanna Vestey’s ode of appreciation to unseen caretakers of London’s theatres

Take a peek behind the curtain with photographer Joanna Vestey’s photo series that features historic venues and their caretakers.

London’s theatre scene is one of the most culturally significant and well-known in the world. Yes, there’s your glitzy, fabulous chart-toppers that hold court at London’s West End, but there’s a ton of smaller – though no less superb – theatres dotted across the rest of The Great Wen.

In the time of Covid-19, these theatres, quite like most other industries, were hit hard. The theatre industry couldn’t really pivot as well as, say, the F&B industry, which has led to an unprecedented time in their history.

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Gerhard Maritz, Keyholder, Bush Theatre. Courtesy of Joanna Vestey.

Oxford-based photographer Joanna Vestey’s series on the Custodians for Covid, however, serves as both reminder and remedy for theatres in dire times. For one, it’s a sobering image of a lone figure, whether it be theatre manager or security supervisor, surrounded by a sea of empty plush seats and balconies that were once filled to bursting on the regular.

On the other hand, the stunning photographs are being offered up for print: each limited edition signed print is going for £200 (S$350), which largely goes to the theatre depicted for a total intended donation of around £50,000 (S$87,500) to each of the 16 theatres.

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Charlie Jones, Building Services Manager, The Royal Albert Hall. Courtesy of Joanna Vestey.

Vestey’s made the documentation of such custodians into something of an art: her first series was widely acclaimed and was focused on none other than the storied halls of Oxford and its custodians. The series was exhibited at the Oxford Biennale, Venice Biennale and The Ashmolean at Oxford. Her other work is held in several locations, including the National Portrait Gallery.

If you’ve been to any of these distinguished halls – or would very much like to go in the future – consider getting a print. After all, the show must go on.