Lauren Burfield is a 22-year-old photography graduate from the Arts University of Bournemouth, concentrating her photography around black and white minimalism and experimentation with documentary. By born in Dubai and growing up in the Middle East for 17 years, the international climate has influenced her images to connect the shapes of both natural and man-made architecture, in an ongoing pairing throughout her work. Social documentary is also an interest for Lauren, through recording images of different cultures and occupation, ranging from Dubai’s old traders in the Creek, to the representation of hospitality in the UK with the unprecedented impact of COVID-19
The series titled ‘LockedOut’ documents the representation of the workers in hospitality. The observational and documentary approach to recording the chaotic demands of the industry and the intimacy of the community, naturally shifted from an intimate observation of the staff, to the documentary and photographic homage of the isolation and closure of restaurants, in the town’s abandonment due to COVID-19. Locked Out essentially defines the industry’s rapid shift from solidarity to solitude. Lockdown One was filled with uncertainty, anxiety and heated confusion towards the unprecedented impact COVID-19 inflicted upon the hospitality industry.
In the weeks where the potential closure of hospitality was aired out in rumors, the oddity of silence in the sudden desolation confronted the industry’s growing abandonment. Standing in the static confinement of the front line, I had never come to realize just how many pots and pans could be stored on the shelf above the stove, consequently retired from the choreographed tag team, between hob and potwash. A pile that had grown so unstable in the absence of demand, that failure to stack up any higher, would disturb the subdued statement in a covet distraction.
The burger skewers forced into the chip tin above the expo in ambitious preparation, resigned from the perpetual chore if being refilled. The timestamp of 16:49 illuminated on the server call machine unfolds a parody in retrospect of a normal shift, where that very same chip pot would be almost empty and vacant for another round. Yet they stand untouched and in solitude under the heat lamps, unnecessarily being kept warm.
The fight for space before stepping out onto the floor in the narrow quarters of the team room usually prevailed as a daily phenomenon. The cotton hooks of our jackets that were stretched out to force a territory on the coat racks now reflected a picture of spoilt choice, they could hang loose and alone without competition. The unwritten ‘first come first served’ rule of the racks, was now replaced with whichever hook was your favorite. We had both the time and the space to run laps around the staff room in procrastination, hurdling over the piles of unused and pristinely cleaned chef whites, which now unbalanced the ratio between clocked in staff, to folded and spare uniform. We found ourselves joking with the idea of soiling a bit of fryer grease onto the white shirts, in a somewhat Jackson Pollock tribute to the busy shifts, now unexpectedly prayed for. Ironically we missed the battering of the weeds. The stains, the sweat, and the sores on our feet reminded us that we worked for the hourly wage. Now it was a case of watching the clock tick by every hour, whilst wiping down the stainless steel counters, again and again, to reflect our bored impressions.
To view more of Lauren Burfield’s work please visit their website.