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This nursing home turned residents into album cover stars, and the images are incredible

Finding a bit of rock ‘n roll, even in a pandemic.

This nursing home turned residents into album cover stars, and the images are incredible
[Images: Robert Speker]

A nursing home in North London may be under lockdown, but it’s still found a way inspire the residents’ creativity.

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Residents and caregivers at the Sydmar Lodge Care Home have been re-creating classic album covers as part of a creative project spurred by activities coordinator Robert Speker. Called “The Show Must Go On,” the goal has been to keep up the spirits of the older residents, who haven’t been able to receive visitors or have any outside entertainment since the lockdown began, according to Speker. (It now allows window and garden visits.)

Britain has been under lockdown since March 23, and care homes have suffered disproportionately: nearly one in three coronavirus-related deaths occurred in nursing homes, according to Reuters. While this small project doesn’t come close to mitigating the effects of the pandemic, it does provide a bit of brightness in a very tough year.

The cover makeovers range from classic Johnny Cash to Taylor Swift’s 1989, all reimagined with residents and caregivers in the spotlight. Take the classic Queen II, which became Carers, with the four portraits of the band members replaced with what appears to be four staff members of the care home. On his eponymous album, the black and white Elvis Presley is replaced by Sheila Solomons, who also riffs on The Clash’s London Calling by holding a cane above her head instead of a guitar. Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA becomes Martin Steinberg’s Born in England; the cover star is still in blue jeans, but the American flag is replaced with the the flag of England.

There have been 12 album re-creations so far, which all keep the design’s original composition while replacing the names, dates, and photos with those of residents. Speker did the residents’ make up and tattoos, along with the photography and editing, according to NPR.

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One of the most striking is a re-creation of Rag’n’Bone Man’s Human. The updated album cover shows one resident in a similar pose, her forearms delicately tattooed to match that of the front man’s. When one Twitter user commented that “surely these modern albums are irrelevant to the residents,” writer Tim Frost replied, “Actually, Sheila is a massive Rag’n’bone Man fan. Saw him live last year.” (Frost’s grandmother lives in Sydmar Lodge and took over the cover of Adele’s 23.)

While restrictions are easing in some sectors, it will be a long time before our day-to-day lives resume a sense of normalcy. Speker has since created a Go Fund Me campaign to fundraise for activities at the home, and many a Twitter user has suggested selling a calendar made from the photos. That certainly would make counting down the days a bit more rock ‘n’ roll.

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About the author

Lilly Smith is an associate editor of Co.Design. She was previously the editor of Design Observer, and a contributing writer to AIGA Eye on Design.

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