Art & Design

Meet The Melburnian Creating A Visual Archive Of Our Time In Lockdown

By Ben Tyers
25th Aug 2020

Popular Melbourne tourist destination, Hosier Lane, empty.

The streets of Melbourne are fairly quiet at the moment as we work our way through stage 4 stay-at-home restrictions.

While we wait for September 14, and hopefully some easing of the current rules, many Melburnians have been documenting life in lockdown, and local Jamie van Leeuwen has started a project to help preserve the memory of this......unprecedented time.

Australia Locked Down is a "visual archive of the COVID-19 impact in Australia" and is a platform for people to send in images and video of what life is like around Australia right now.

We recently caught up with Jamie to talk about Australia Locked Down.


A post shared by Australia Locked Down �� (@australialockeddown) on

WHAT MADE you start the project?

Early on when we were starting to see the initial impact of COVID-19, I knew this was going to be a historic period in our lives. I picked up my camera and started recording the way Melbourne was affected—masks, business closures, deserted city streets, fear and uncertainty.

I wanted to capture this period for future generations and approached the National Film and Sound Archive, who gratefully accepted visual projects I've worked on during the outbreak of the coronavirus. But that wasn't enough. I can only present my experience and there are 25 million other Australians with a story to tell.

I think we can all agree that our national institutions, like the National Film and Sound Archive, play an important role in preserving our history. I created a digital archive called Australia Locked Down to assist in their collection and to reach out to the wider community for their own photos and videos. I believe the most accurate snapshot of this pandemic won't come from traditional media outlets but from the everyday public.

Everyone has a phone and a camera. Everyone has a different experience of the events of 2020. This project taps into that as an archive for people's videos, pictures, stories, illustrations or anything that has been created in response to the COVID outbreak. These pieces of content will be compiled and offered to the NFSA.

Have you been surprised by how many people have jumped on board?

Absolutely. There's been a fantastic response with hundreds of submissions rolling in during the first week. I think people are eager to share their experiences of this bizarre period and having a dedicated platform like Australia Locked Down is helping them do that.


The NFSA has come on board to make this an official collaboration. Once this pandemic has run its course - hopefully by the end of the year—they will look through the content and choose which ones they'd like to preserve in their archives.

You can submit your creative work during lockdown to Australia Locked Down.

Email Jamie at

Speaking of lockdown, here's all the latest news from the press conferences.

Image credit: Jamie van Leeuwen

Get our top stories direct to your inbox.

Get our top stories direct to your inbox.

You May Also Like