Derry pupil’s artwork illustrates hope for future in Global Writing Lockdown project

Josh Cullen, a pupil at Hollybush Primary School in Derry sitting on the floor surrounded by books7th September 2020

Eight-year-old Josh Cullen, a pupil at Hollybush Primary School in Derry is the youngest person from the island of Ireland to have his work published in a collection of global lockdown writing. The 48-page digital book titled ‘Near and Far Are All the Same These Days’ includes short stories, poems and drawings which capture people’s feelings and observations on lockdown and was coordinated in Northern Ireland by children’s writing centre, Fighting Words NI. 

The Global Writing Lockdown project was launched in May by Danish organisation Ordskaelv, who collaborated with writing centres around the world, calling on poets, writers and artists to articulate what lockdown meant for them. Eight editions of ‘Near and Far’ were produced to represent the eight different countries that participated in the project. 

While this is the first time that Josh has participated in a Fighting Words NI project, he is already a huge fan of reading and is part of a group of local children who have been exchanging letters and drawings with residents of William Street Care Home in the city. 

Delighted that his drawing of a sunflower was used to illustrate NearFar, Josh says: “I wanted to draw something, make a good piece of art.  I love drawing. The message I wrote was about hope for the future because flowers kept growing even when everyone was in lockdown.” Luckily lockdown didn’t cause Josh too much stress and gave him more time to spend doing his favourite thing- reading; “I thought lockdown was good cos I got to stay at home. I’ve read over 70 books and I got to see my friends from bookclub on Zoom.”

Emily DeDakis, Operations Manager at Fighting Words NI said; “When we launched Global Writing Lockdown in April, it was a real unknown; we didn’t know how people would respond. We’ve been delighted with the submissions that cover so many feelings and emotions- frustration and boredom, as you might expect, but also some hilarious observations and reflections on life in a time of Covid.  What is clear is that people crave an outlet to express their feelings about this strange new situation we find ourselves in and NearFar will serve as a record of how we coped (or not) during the first few months of living in a pandemic."

For information on Fighting Words and how to get involved in future writing projects, go to