Artist paints unseen moments from Suffolk libraries

Suffolk artist has been spending the lockdown travelling round 13 Suffolk libraries. 

Suffolk artist has been spending the lockdown travelling round 13 Suffolk libraries. - Credit: Suffolk Libraries

An online art exhibition offers a unique insight into what libraries were like before and during the Covid-19 crisis.

Suffolk Libraries joined forces with local illustrator and printmaker Sandy Horsley, who spent a year regularly visiting 13 Suffolk libraries to capture unseen moments between customers and staff.  

The project began in 2019 but had to be put on hold in the first lockdown, when libraries were closed - with Sandy continuing to visit libraries once they reopened.

Sandy Horsley captured what it has been like for customers in libraries during and before Covid 

Sandy Horsley captured what it has been like for customers in libraries during and before Covid - Credit: Suffolk Libraries

Her work has therefore turned into a unique snapshot of how library staff and customers coped and adapted during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Sandy said: “In month six of the project, we had to pause because of the Covid-19 pandemic but, after the first lockdown, restrictions were relaxed and libraries were able to open again. 


You may also want to watch:


“So, there I was in the library sketching in my mask and visor. What I observed was very moving.  

“Customers were obviously really pleased to be back in the library and speak to someone and get some support.  

Most Read

“It really brought home the importance of libraries and the additional services they offer.  

Customers now have to wear a mask in all Suffolk libraries

Customers now have to wear a mask in all Suffolk libraries - Credit: Suffolk Libraries

“Throughout the lockdown, libraries were invaluable in being that fourth emergency service.   

“They are extraordinary places, run by and visited by extraordinary people.” 

Sandy’s work is being exhibited at Ipswich County Library.

As people are currently not allowed to view it in person, it can be accessed by the interactive virtual exhibition.  

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter