Nursing Home Residents Replace Famous Rock Stars on Iconic Album Covers

Deserved­ly or not, British care homes have acquired a rep­u­ta­tion as espe­cial­ly drea­ry places, from Vic­to­ri­an nov­els to dystopi­an fic­tion to the flat affect of BBC doc­u­men­taries. Mar­tin Parr gave the world an espe­cial­ly mov­ing exam­ple of the care home doc­u­men­tary in his 1972 pho­to series on Prest­wich Asy­lum, out­side Man­ches­ter. The com­pelling por­traits human­ize peo­ple who were neglect­ed and ignored, yet their lives still look bleak in that aus­tere­ly post-war British insti­tu­tion kind of way.

One can­not say any­thing of the kind of the pho­to series rep­re­sent­ed here, which casts res­i­dents of Syd­mar Lodge Care Home in Edge­ware, Eng­land as rock stars, dig­i­tal­ly recre­at­ing some of the most famous album cov­ers of all time. This is not, obvi­ous­ly, a can­did look at res­i­dents’ day-to-day exis­tence. But it sug­gests a pret­ty cheer­ful place. “The main aim was to show that care homes need not be a sad envi­ron­ment, even dur­ing this pan­dem­ic,” says the pho­tos’ cre­ator Robert Speker, the home’s activ­i­ties man­ag­er.

“Speker tweet­ed side-by-side pho­tos of the orig­i­nal cov­ers and the Syd­mar Lodge res­i­dents’ new takes, and the tweets quick­ly took off,” NPR’s Lau­rel Wams­ley writes. He’s made it clear that the pri­ma­ry audi­ence for the recre­at­ed cov­ers is the res­i­dents them­selves: Iso­lat­ed in lock­down for the past four months; cut off from vis­its and out­ings; suf­fer­ing from an indef­i­nite sus­pen­sion of famil­iar rou­tines.

Speker does not deny the grim real­i­ty behind the inspir­ing images. “Elder­ly peo­ple will remain in lock­down for a long time,” he writes on a GoFundMe page he cre­at­ed to help sup­port the home. “It could be months before the sit­u­a­tion changes for them.”

But he is opti­mistic about his abil­i­ties to “make their time as hap­py and full of enjoy­ment and inter­est as pos­si­ble.” Would that all nurs­ing homes had such a ded­i­cat­ed, award-win­ning coor­di­na­tor. Res­i­dents them­selves, he wrote on Twit­ter, were “enthused and per­haps a bit bemused by the idea, but hap­py to par­tic­i­pate.” When they saw the results—stunning Roma Cohen as Aladdin Sane, defi­ant Sheila Solomons as Elvis and The Clash’s Paul Simenon, casu­al Mar­tin Stein­berg as a “Born in Eng­land” Springsteen—they were delight­ed. Four of the home­’s car­ers got their own cov­er, too, posed as Queen.

Res­i­dents, Speker said, were real­ly “hav­ing a good gig­gle about it.” And we can too, as we bear in mind the many elder­ly peo­ple around us who have been locked in for months, with maybe many more months of iso­la­tion ahead. Not every­one is as tal­ent­ed as Robert Speker, who did the mod­els’ make­up and tat­toos him­self (with hair by a care home man­ag­er), as well as tak­ing all the pho­tographs and edit­ing the images to con­vinc­ing­ly mim­ic the pos­es, com­po­si­tion, light­ing, font, and col­or schemes of the orig­i­nals. But let’s hope his work is a spark that lights up nurs­ing homes and care facil­i­ties with all sorts of cre­ative ideas to keep spir­its up. See sev­er­al more cov­ers below and the rest on Twit­ter.

via the BBC/NPR

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Peo­ple Pose in Uncan­ny Align­ment with Icon­ic Album Cov­ers: Dis­cov­er The Sleeve­face Project

The His­to­ry of the Fish­eye Pho­to Album Cov­er

Dyson Cre­ates 44 Free Engi­neer­ing & Sci­ence Chal­lenges for Kids Quar­an­tined Dur­ing COVID-19

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

by | Permalink | Comments (0) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.