Qianying Li

Memories from COVID-19

Bachelor of Design Illustration Publication

A visual exploration of the lockdown through the perspective of a Chinese student

The project is a document of an era where all that is certain becomes uncertain. Illustrations are used through an autoethnographic approach to give voice to personal experiences through design. The research contributes to the exploration of poetic writing and illustration to document, understand and express a moment of crisis in human history. It will contribute to understanding the impact of the pandemics and make a historical contribution. The outcome of this project is a series of illustrations intertwined with poems in a graphical publication that encapsulates a perspective from inside the lockdown and reflecting on feelings and emotions.

This publication is a double accordion book, bound as a hardback and folded left and right, representing my experiences in China and New Zealand during COVID-19.

COVID-19 is a contagious disease that cannot be ignored and has changed the way people live their lives. In the early 2020s, many countries closed their borders to people from other countries to prevent the spread of the virus into their territory, New Zealand being one of these countries. Even today travel remains restricted in many ways. Many international students’ study plans were put on hold due to the pandemic.

This project aims to create a visual narrative, advanced through illustrations and poetic writing, that reflects my experience of lockdowns imposed by COVID-19. The narrative adopts the form of a publication to tell the story of myself, who experiences being locked down in China after an exchange programme and unable to return to New Zealand due to travel restrictions imposed by New Zealand on international students. During the time I had to wait in China to be able to return to New Zealand to complete my bachelor in visual communication design, the lockdown produced in my feelings of isolation, distancing, anxiety and many other emotions. I then expressed these feelings through illustrations and poetic writing, created in response to this unprecedented time. The illustrations and poetic writing encapsulate an artistic response to a historical moment, drawn into being through poetic writing and imagery.

For me this has been an unforgettable experience. This project documented my feelings and psychological changes. At the same time, the resulting book may also resonate with international students and encourage them to keep pushing forward. I hope they will overcome the difficulties caused by the pandemic and complete their studies, even if it is through online classes. COVID-19 has devastated the lives of international students, and through this project, more people will learn about this group and their experiences.