London is Lonely

By Tessa Blencowe & Irene Palacio

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Loneliness is something both of us have felt at many different points in our lives. It’s a feeling we both instantly recognise but one that shuts us down and closes us off from the world around us. We’re learning that many others resonate with this as well.

We’re afraid to fail, we’re afraid to be different, we’re afraid of being vulnerable. So we hide because we’re afraid no one will understand. 

It takes bravery to unlearn this. It is by listening and sharing that opens us up to less shame and less stigma. It requires us to leave our prejudices behind and listen without judgement to those around us. It also requires us to trust that others really do want to listen to our truth as well; to see and be seen; to listen and be heard, no matter who we are.

The problem

London is one of the loneliest cities in the world, but loneliness is a hidden epidemic. The stigma surrounding loneliness can prevent people from speaking out and getting the help they need.

Loneliness belongs to us all, regardless of how old we are, or how many friends we have. The more we allow ourselves to talk, the easier it is to see and reach for the help and support that is out there.      

Our intervention

We are creating an immersive exhibition composed of photographs and audio stories of loneliness in London. Our aim is to reduce shame and stigma by creating spaces for individuals to experience real local stories, and, by inviting them to share their own stories and solutions to tackle loneliness in their community.

We want to show all the different ways loneliness can be felt and all the different people who can experience loneliness - only then can we show that loneliness is nothing to be ashamed of.

Of those who have gone through the exhibition, 98% continued the conversation with more than one person after the exhibition, and 93% said they were more likely to speak up about their own feelings of loneliness as a result of hearing other people’s stories.

We know our exhibition is working, but there’s more to do.

We need your help

We already have 20 stories, but your support will help us to create 80 more. We’ll then be able to exhibit these stories in numerous locations for our 2020 popup exhibition tour around London.

If we reach our target of £20k, you’ll be helping us to:

  • Fund outreach - this includes marketing costs associated with finding those to feature in the exhibition. This is a combination of online advertising, PR and direct marketing.

  • Compensate interviewees - it’s important to us to acknowledge to those we are interviewing that time is precious - and we’re taking up a fair bit of their time to get what we need for the exhibition. For this reason, we offer financial compensation for their time. 

  • Fund our time - Both of us will be working on this project full time until the end of the year. For 10 stories, sourcing, securing and scheduling interviews and photoshoots take around one week, so for 80 more stories, that’s about 6-8 weeks. When it comes to capturing the stories, it takes 90 minutes to interview each person and photograph them in their own environment. It then takes around 2.5 hours to edit their interview into a 2-minute piece and 2 hours to select and edit the best portrait for the exhibition (usually from a selection of over 100 shots).  For 80 new stories, this will take us approximately 120 hours of interviewing and photographing, and 360 hours of editing. It’s a lot of work, to say the least, but worth every minute of it.

Our exhibition is designed to show the magnitude of loneliness and to demonstrate that this is a shared issue, which means we’re all part of the solution.

The more stories we can share, the more we can see that loneliness is something we all feel sometimes, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. 

Let’s build a more meaningfully connected world, one story at a time.

With love and gratitude,

Tessa & Irene

Artists of London is Lonely


London is Lonely was born out of the innovation programme, the Loneliness Lab.

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Team Members

Tessa Blencowe & Irene Palacio