And so we enter our second week of social distancing and occasional walks for shopping or exercise. Hope its been ok for you, for me it’s been strange. Watching awareness sinking in has been interesting. Our first walk around the area told us that people were struggling with the concept of distancing, but as the week progressed we all got better at it. Our local bakers closed last Monday, as did our independent local minimarket, and the organic veg shop went delivery only on Wednesday. We’ve managed to avoid the hell of large supermarkets, but I’m about to run out of my meagre stock of bread flour. First world problems, along with having to come to terms with the reality that the spontaneity we usually enjoy must be replaced with the shopping list, no more just popping out when you need something, or going to the studio and reveling in the space. A luxury, as is the ability to self-isolate, to socially distance – we are not living in a refugee camp, the Favellas or shanty towns and slums that house so many, but still we complain.
I spent last week processing. Creativity was impossible, though I’ve moved my paints and canvas home, and am setting up studio in my backroom again. The first days were spent obsessively watching news and social media, gathering information, feeding the fears. I had no response, artistically, to an experience that was ongoing, I was frozen in it’s headlights, too bound up in the now to reflect and respond. I tinkered with clearing and rearranging to be able to actually get the easel up, but reached an impasse that stopped me doing the last bits necessary; it didn’t matter, I still couldn’t paint. We are not designed to sit on a sofa as a way of responding to threat, and our threat meters are going of the scale, but it’s what we have to do. Most of us are learning how to do this, some well, some less so, but there are so many unanswered ‘what if’s’ that I try to avoid being harsh in my judgement of both my fellows and myself. Around me the local community is responding in different ways. Some rage at restrictions, some hoard, some laugh at our attempts to maintain distance, some troll the Zoom workshops of the creative world, politics of the schoolyard and the core ugliness of humanity is revealed. It is also offset by the signs of our beauty, from local takeaways doing free foodbags for vulnerable people, and community members organising delivery services for them, to people passing on play equipment and crafts resources to the parents of younger children who can make better use of them. There is evidence enough that alongside our instinctively selfish behaviour is a desire to help others, community is not dead, though we oft behave like it is.
By Friday I had achieved calm, I had to put my fears away, in the absence of the ability to make an immediate response to threat they were a hindrance, and I’m too good at succumbing to the black dog. I spent the day tidying up this website, and created a new page. The Artist Support Pledge (an initiative set up by the Sussex-based artist Matthew Burrows), is a simple concept: artists are invited to post pictures of their works for sale for £200 or less on Instagram using the hashtag #ArtistSupportPledge. Every time an artist makes £1,000 in sales they then pledge to plough back £200 on purchasing the work of another artist using the hashtag. There are no enforcements, it is a system based on trust. I have made a number of my works available for £200 or less, and pledge that each time I reach £1000 in sales I will buy another artists work for £200.
For now I have a painting tentatively planned, and hope to have completed by the end of the week. Meanwhile, the painting I have chosen for this blog is an earlier work from this year, In the quiet of the day. The painting was drawn from a photo of Portsoy Harbour from last July, and entirely suits my currently reflective mood.
You can view the works I have made available as part of the Artist Support Pledge here or by clicking on the painting at the top of this post. You can also follow my instagram page from the social media submenu on this post. Stay safe and thankyou for reading.