A Walk Through Wuhan – Life without Covid-19 by photographer Fergus Coyle
Fergus Coyle, a creative born in London and raised in Bristol, England, is an award-winning photographer whose work has not only been exhibited internationally but has seen him explore some of the planet’s most extraordinary locations.
An accomplished cyclist who is always armed with his camera, Coyle has previously completed tours across North America and Europe while capturing multiple different series of images that capture societal change through the from place to place. In 2017, however, the photographer was in Wuhan, the sprawling capital of Central China’s Hubei province, a location that has hit headlines for all the wrong reasons in 2020.
With a population of over 11 million, the ninth most populous Chinese city, Wuhan has been involved in a number of different historical events—but none more so than the COVID-19 pandemic which was first identified in Wuhan in December 2019. After a stringent investigation, several of the earliest known cases had visited the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, a live animal and seafood market in Jianghan District, Wuhan, Hubei.
After three months in lockdown, the Central Chinese city of Wuhan was no longer sealed off from the world. While the virus continued to spread violently across the globe, Wuhan’s strict lockdown had prevailed and a sense of normality was returning to daily lives. Now, a municipality official has confirmed that a mammoth 10 million tests had been conducted in a mere 10 days which found no confirmed cases. The source of the novel coronavirus had, somewhat miraculously, wiped it out. “Wuhan has tested 9.89 million people during its ten-day citywide nucleic test campaign, found 300 asymptomatic carriers, and no confirmed cases,” officials confirmed.
Wuhan, despite its massive population, was relatively unknown prior to COVID-19. The tourism industry remained minimal in comparison to some of China’s more popular locations. However, in 2017, before the talk of the pandemic had even entered our minds, photographer Fergus Coyle visited the area and documented it on medium format film. “It was an eye-opening experience, delving into both longstanding rich traditions and an inescapable influence from the west,” he wrote in Globe Magazine. “I consider this China Diary to be a fact-finding mission, merely scratching the surface of many new and interesting stories which I look forward to further exploring on my return soon.”
The series, entitled A Walk Through Wuhan, has already featured at the Royal Photographic Society’s International Photography Exhibition 161 and The Kuala Lampar International Portrait Awards as Coyle’s innate storytelling skills are projected through his lens in captivating fashion.
“Every corner you turn there’s a hive of activity,” Coyle said in a seperate interview with It’s Nice That, pointing out Wuhan’s “strong culture for eating out” at cafes, restaurants and markets.
The roads were bustling, “cars, motorbikes and endless yellow hire bikes that end up in huge piles at their drop off points,” as life before a serious virus paused social life as we all know it. “It’s sad to think that it could forever be known as the source of a virus-turned-pandemic,” he added.
“So far, this project has just scratched the surface of life in Wuhan and there are many stories I would like to develop upon too,” Fergus said. “Through these photographs, I hope viewers can take a moment to have an unbiased look at Wuhan, away from the mainstream media. To get a sense of the city’s character and a brief insight into the daily lives of its inhabitants.”