As lockdown eases, Together is an illustrated testament to the surreal and frequently horrific events of the past year

As lockdown is (fingers and toes crossed) easing across the UK, we're looking back at the strange and heady days of Lockdown Round One – specifically, at this ode to remote collaboration, Together.

Created by artist Luke Adam Hawker, with words by Marianne Laidlaw, last weekend was a cause for celebration for the pair on finding the book in the Sunday Times Bestsellers list.

"This book was pure salvation when I was busy drawing it throughout lockdown and it's been incredible to see so many people connect with it so strongly," says Hawker, who thanks Laidlaw for her "beautiful words and for believing in the book from day one".

Together comprises 53 of Hawker's drawings, accompanied by poetic text-based vignettes from Laidlaw which form a philosophical reflection on the difficulties of the past year. While acknowledging and exploring these challenges head-on, the book's overall message is "the belief that we'll emerge as better people now that we understand how unity brings strength," as Hawker puts it.

Hawker and Laidlaw "met" by chance, thanks to a video Hawker had posted of a drawing on his Instagram feed in that now rather a quaint-seeming time of early Zoom calls, "clapping for carers" and finding fun creative distractions from global gloom. It was Zoom that the pair, like many 2020 collaborators, relied on to make the book a reality, with Hawker filling pages upon pages of sketchbooks to share with his remote creator digitally.

Published by Octopus Books, the publication is billed as one to be shared with the friends and family we've been separated from over the past year.

"Together is a beautiful story of one old man and his dog weathering a monumental storm – a gentle and philosophical reflection on the events of 2020, from clapping for carers to eerily empty tube carriages, bulk buying loo roll to the long, lonely months inside, and finding the strength to weather the storm and pull through by focusing on what is truly important," says the publisher. "Together is a powerful summary of an extraordinary time to which we can all relate."

Hawker began his career as a designer before becoming a full-time artist in 2015. Since then he has focussed on drawing on location, and his work frequently draws on his fascination with drawing's ability to help us connect with both places and people.


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